Marshall McLuhan famously said ‘the medium is the message’ (by which was meant that the choice of means and transmission of the message was more impactful than the message itself) but this could also be restated as ‘the medium is the legacy’. If the creator hasn’t provided for the means to preserve their work, and retrieve it, it vanishes, and the longed-for legacy is lost. Hoping to be remembered is a mug’s game really, since in actuality the means to preserve and retrieve records is fragile and likely temporary.
Travels with Myself
A Journal of Discovery and Transition
Doug Jordan, Author
I’ve had experience with medical assistance in dying, with my dogs. Scoff if you like, but I’m sure the rituals and emotional experience of it is very similar. And the worst of it is, the trusting quadrupedal family member has no idea what is coming. For our pets, and severely injured and ill animals of any description, we have almost no reservations about euthanasia for them.
With bipedal family members the experience must be different. Sentience in the human makes the difference, and so we defer to the one who will die to make the decision? But what if they can’t? Or leave it too late?
Beyond the gift of god argument, attitudes to suicide may vary with cultural norms. In some cultures it seen as the ultimate in cowardice, and selfishness. In others, suicide is seen as the failure of society to rescue the suicidal individual from the social and psychological demons she or he is living with. In yet other societies it is seen as the height of honour. But mostly, suicide has been seen as a tragic end to an unhappy existence, and an outcome that society should do whatever it can to minimize.
Ageing happens every day of course but we don’t tend to notice, until one day. Somewhere around age 70 I began to notice changes in Dad’s skin, brown spots on his hands, and face. And jowls. Clear signs of ageing. And it bothered me.
His skin also became increasingly wrinkled. He’d take off his perma-pressed shirt and remark his skin needed ironing. Miraculously his hair never went gray!
It’s amazing how we put off doing what we know we must, somehow hoping to buy time and maybe a miracle. It’s certain we have to do our taxes. (Though maybe not for everyone – I’ve heard of people who avoided filing tax returns for years, maybe even know some of them, and I’m pretty sure it’s not because they have no taxable income.) It seems just as certain we have to accept our own demise too (though maybe those serial avoiders also know something about certain death the rest of us don’t).
Many of my readers, when they had read the last instalments of my blogs that they were in fact the last, were mildly alarmed at the news: I had said I would convert the two blogs to books: The Pilipiñas Packet ended because I had returned to Canada from Philippines, Travels with Myself ended because my journey from the abyss to recovery had largely been complete. But then my caring readers were relieved when I said I would continue the blog, I still have a life to live and stories yet to tell.
[two things that have stayed with me] : ‘we never stop grieving, it just gets quieter.’ And, ‘[he] doesn’t believe in closure’. If there’s new information that explain things you didn’t understand before, that helps; but there is no closure. It’s not like closing the lid of a box, or a coffin.
And I already ‘knew’ about Grief, Empathy and Aging. But I didn’t really ‘know’. You cannot know these things until you have actually experienced the depth of feeling these can demand of you. But my year in the Fog brought whole new lessons.