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Here is the question:

Do we each have a responsibility to try to survive?

If so, at what point is it ok to stop?


*Edit - this is related to my father's health... it's not a question derived of any suicidal ideation on my part.


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 28th, 2007 05:50 am (UTC)
there is some point where quality of life is more important than quantity.
the older you get the less possible time you have some so when quality is going to be poor at best you might have to look at the persons will to make themselves suffer. not a easy to pinpoint.
Nov. 28th, 2007 06:29 am (UTC)
I hear what you're saying.

So what determines quality?

What I'm getting at is at what point do you want to say, "I understand... you're done fighting... it's ok, you can let go now" versus "You stupid spoiled shit, you think this is bad? This is nothing compared to the normal living conditions that some people deal with every day. You're just being a big baby. Suck it up princess."
Nov. 28th, 2007 06:33 am (UTC)
Have I mentioned that I have unusual views on most things?

I don't think we have any responsibility to survive unless we take on that responsibility. If you have children, you do have the responsibility to raise them. Once that's done, all bets are off. I think anti suicide morals are bullshit. There's nothing inherently wrong with hurting yourself. It's you. You can do whatever you want to you. Hell, suicide was made illegal because dead people can't apy taxes.

On the other hand, I believe that when you die, you become worm food and that's about it. So things would have to be pretty bad to prefer nothing to something. At least with something, there is the potential for good. I'm way too fucking happy of a person. It's kind of disturbing. The only time I'm not smiling is when I'm thinking about something. And that's not because I'm upset, I just forget to smile. Problem solving is my favourite.

I'd be happy to share all my world views with you. Just keep asking the questions. I think I needed to go to sleep two hours ago. I'll shut up now.
Nov. 28th, 2007 07:04 am (UTC)
I don't think we have any responsibility to survive unless we take on that responsibility. If you have children, you do have the responsibility to raise them. Once that's done, all bets are off.

I totally 100% agree with this.

I also believe that there's a lot that's "nice" to do that's not necessarily a responsibility. If there are people who love me and will miss me, I'll make a huge amount more effort than if there aren't.
Nov. 29th, 2007 05:46 am (UTC)
I'll ask you the same question I asked Blake... what about spouses? Do you feel they fall in differently, or are they the same as everyone else? What about grandchildren?
Nov. 29th, 2007 11:22 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure what you mean by how they "fall in". I believe that people who love me and would miss me are one group, and people who don't are another; and that, ultimately, while neither group owns me nor has the tiniest right to ask me to live in pain, I will put forth a lot more effort for the first group.
Nov. 28th, 2007 12:52 pm (UTC)
Yup. You were right. They are unusual.
Nov. 29th, 2007 05:45 am (UTC)
Hmm, ok, so what about spouses? Where do they fall in? You have a responsibility to raise the children, but what about your spouse?
Nov. 29th, 2007 01:15 pm (UTC)
I think both people have a responsibility to each other insofar that if my spouse was in so much pain that she wanted to die it would selfish of me to tell her she can't. Yes it's selfish of her to not care about anyone around her that cares if she dies, but how is one more prominent than the other? Frankly I just can't bear to see people I love in pain. It's that whole if you love someone set them free thing I think.
Nov. 28th, 2007 06:40 am (UTC)
I think it's okay when it's a graceful acceptance of the inevitable, rather than any sense of despair or defeatism.

I don't believe in life at all costs - if the measures required are 'heroic', then it's fine to sit back and say, 'I'm okay with it being my time'.

I think it's a very moveable point, and depends far more on the motive than the actual circumstances. What is 'heroic' to someone may be perfectly reasonable effort to another.
Nov. 29th, 2007 05:52 am (UTC)
That's an interesting idea about it being more about the motive than the circumstances. I'm not sure I agree, but I need to think about it more. Feel free to expand further or provide examples... I'm really trying to get my mind around this concept right now.
Nov. 29th, 2007 07:03 am (UTC)
I guess it comes down to whether someone's living or dying, and that's a qualitative thing rather than a quantitative thing. In general, I think the easier the treatment or the more likely the outcome will be positive, the more moral incentive there is for someone to try to survive. Conversely, the more onerous or less likely the treatment will have a positive outcome, the less reason there is to pursue treatment.

I think "easy" and "onerous" are shifting points, depending on the person. But I do also think that a person can choose to refuse potentially life saving treatment in two ways - they can choose to live, or choose to die. A person can decide that they want life over with, they want to cut the suffering short; so they refuse treatment for that reason. To me, that's a form of suicide.

Alternatively, a person might choose to refuse treatment, because they would rather make the best of what they have left, than struggle for an uncertain future. What makes this kind of decision okay, in my mind, is when it's choosing to live in the present moment; and when it's accepting death rather than seeking it.

Two people with exactly the same disease could refuse the same treatment in the same circumstances; and in one case it could be okay, and in the other it could not be okay. The difference is the motive, the reasoning, not the physical or material choice.

My father is sort of an example here. Perhaps he's not the best example, because we knew his cancer was terminal and aggressive. He chose to try some chemo, then he decided to stop it. He spent his last months living - he got in touch with as many people as he could, just to spend time with them. His hospital room was the noisiest room in the hospital - he was surrounded by people he loved, and he was really savouring every moment. He made peace with his family, and encouraged them to do the same with each other. He said "I love you" to as many people as he could. He also chose the point where he was ready to go, when he decided it was time to take off the oxygen mask. It wasn't choosing death, it was accepting death; and as he said, dying was the best part of his life. He said he thought it was a pity you only got to do it once, because he enjoyed it so much.

From what you've posted, I'm guessing your father is not approaching things this way. It's defeat, not acceptance. I'm really sorry that you and your family are watching it, because it's horrible.
Nov. 28th, 2007 07:57 am (UTC)
First, I think it's sad you have to add the footnote. lol. Our society sucks! ;)

Second, in my work I have found that most of the time, a person in pain or dying slowly hangs on longer that really want to because of those around them. It's like they feel they can't leave them behind.

Honestly, if I knew that death was the only way to end the suffering and pain they had within them, then I would let them know that I appreciated all the time they fought, so that I could have more time with them and tell them it was okay to pass on.

On the other hand. A lot of pain is mental. People who feel down and out often make things worse in their own minds. But at the end of the day, the only person who knows you, is you.

My opinion varies from case to case, but usually I find that family doesn't want to let go. That can lead to a person holding on longer than they wanted to, and really they are just suffering more. Some would think it is selfish for a family to want them to hold on and be in pain for one second longer than they have to, but it is human nature to not want to let them go.

When that person feels it is time to go, they will go. No amount of fighting will stop it. On that same note, if a person is making things worse than it is in their mind, they won't just close their eyes and pass on. Their body will fight because it really isn't ready to give up yet, even if the mind is.
Nov. 29th, 2007 05:55 am (UTC)
On that same note, if a person is making things worse than it is in their mind, they won't just close their eyes and pass on. Their body will fight because it really isn't ready to give up yet, even if the mind is.

Thank you Brandonn. I'm going to need reminding of this in the future. If you can remember, please feel free to point it out again. This may be the most relevant point of all.
Nov. 29th, 2007 08:54 am (UTC)
I'll do my best luv. hugs.
Nov. 28th, 2007 01:34 pm (UTC)
I think survival isn't so much a responsibility as it is a natural instinct. The desire to fight for life exists within us all. But there are many internal and external factors that effect how willing we are to continue fighting. Pain, both mental and physical, can certainly be a factor. These are big quality of life issues. When my father had cancer he lost his sense of smell and taste after chemo. For most people this is temporary, but 6 months after beginning chemo his had not returned. While the medications were controlling his pain, the nausea, constipation and lack of familiar flavors certainly lead to him not wanting to eat. You could see the pain in his face when he would try to eat his favorite foods only to find that cancer had taken away the enjoyment and comfort these foods had provided in the past. I think once we have hit that point where the most basic life sustaining function becomes another source of pain, mental and physical, the acceptance becomes...not easier, but inevitable.

I think as human beings we do have a responsibility to our loved ones to help them survive when we can, but to be understanding when the time comes even though our own natural instincts are telling us to continue fighting for survival.

Shar I am sorry you and your family are suffering.
Nov. 29th, 2007 05:56 am (UTC)
Thanks, I appreciate your comment.
Nov. 28th, 2007 04:52 pm (UTC)
I would answer that with an empathic NO. You have a responsibility only to yourself to live your life as you choose. Granted, the comments above about choosing to have children alter that, and I would agree. But the bottom line is it your life, and you have the right to choose how to live it, or end it.

With that said, you just have to be willing accept the consequences of your actions, which in this case might put emotional stress on those you love.
Nov. 29th, 2007 05:57 am (UTC)
Out of curiosity, how do you figure spouses fit into this? You have a responsibility to your children, but what about the spouse?
Nov. 28th, 2007 04:57 pm (UTC)
Oh baby, opinion time!

This depends entirely on how you perceive the word 'responsibility'

I view it as meaning that you absolutely _have_ to do something.

I do not believe anyone has any responsibility to do anything. Especially not survival. If you think people do, then every single person has failed that responsibility miserably, or will fail miserably.

This will sound very cold and distant, but you do not have a responsibility even to your own children. This is raw instinct that says you should, but there is nothing at all that says you must care for them.

That having been said, you're a horrible person if you do not care for your children. In-as-much as they are yours, whether adopted or biological, and not a sperm bank donation that comes back 20 years later to haunt you, you owe that person nothing ;)

But I digress. You are entitled to stop surviving at any time you want. On top of that, you are forced to stop surviving at any time someone else wants it badly enough.

You do not have to have any responsibilities you don't truly want.

A bit dark and morbid, but, uh, that's how I see it.
Nov. 29th, 2007 05:58 am (UTC)
Interesting perspective. Thanks for sharing it, I really appreciate the input.
Nov. 29th, 2007 04:21 am (UTC)
I'm not going to lie to you (as if I ever would). I spent most of my work day thinking about this question. It didn't distract me from the important tasks at hand or anything like that but I...just kept lingering back to it. Maybe because I was planning to answer it from the office, but couldn't do to insufficient wi-fi capabilities.

Regardless...something occurred to me. It was enough for me to stop thinking about it until now.

Even if you put aside religious disposition, moral dilemma, and political views, one thing should remain obvious to everyone. We were not placed here to die. I mean sure...we're all dying in the Sylvia Plath sense of the term. But that's not actually our main purpose in life. Our main purpose in life has yet to be determined.

One thing about that which is clear is that we define our own existence. The only relevant judge in that case is history.

If you read my entry Death Incarnate you will read semi in depth my elaboration on my statement there being no such thing as "dying with dignity". So I won't go into that here. Way too much to type.

Besides, it wouldn't really answer your original question anyway. When is it ok to stop?

Your friend up there is half right. It is your life which means you can do what you want with it. Unfortunately, he is misguided. Remember when I said "we were not placed here to die"? In this world, I'm not really sure of much. But I am sure of that.

If death were the ultimate goal, there would be a higher level of suicides annually. Instead, we go to way too much trouble avoiding death. And yet without death, life would be meaningless. Which, there in-lies the dilemma. At what point is it ok to stop?

I'm not going to pretend to have the answers, but I'll give this one...the old college try.

I have no clue what your father is going through right now. However, you do. So put yourself in his shoes. Feel what he's feeling. Know what he knows. See what he sees. Now..

Do you still want to live?

My belief is this. If you want to live for others, fine. I live for others everyday. But if living for others gets to the point where quality of life is non-existent and meeting the brink of death on a daily basis yet not quite meeting death, then I would be forced (not to mention, ashamed) to admit that life is no longer worth living. And that is sad.


I'm also a guy who happens to think suicide is both pointless and morally retarded. There in-lies the dilemma. A person should have the right to expire when they feel it is their time, yet they shouldn't try to end things so quickly just because it hurts to live.

I know. Doctor, my head!

I'm sure you've heard this once or twice when you were in the service. It's a shit sandwich and we've all gotta eat it. But to put it less cryptically cynical..

Your daddy is a big boy who is going to do what he is going to do. And tragically, there is little anyone around him can do about it. I'd go into a diatribe about letting nature take its course but...somehow that seems redundant and inappropriate at this point. Lots of luck with whatever happens from here.
Nov. 29th, 2007 06:02 am (UTC)
Thanks for your comment Menace. Of all the ones you've left in my journal, I think I appreciate this one the most.
Dec. 28th, 2007 01:12 pm (UTC)
I think it is one of those things that we don't know what we will do until it happens. Sorry if it sounds like a cop out but I really believe it. Some things I have had happen to me molded my views about certain things and I don't think I would think the same way about them without actually experiencing it first.
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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