Dad’s fear of death

I believe I’ve mentioned before on this blog that my dad was afraid of dying. I never really explored the specific reasons why with him, but I do know he was afraid of suffocating and would have terrible nightmares around that theme.

Well, I hope Dad is okay as ashes in a container. I haven’t sealed the lid on my container, just in case he needs some more space!

But on a more serious note, his deep-seated fear of death led to a stony silence about any end-of-life discussions. My mom, ever the optimist, was more than willing to go along with him and pretend that the “d-word” was never going to happen. Sadly, this happens in a lot of families, and it’s usually the children or other relatives that are serving as caregivers that have to deal with the consequences.

I’m not a fan of legislation that tells people what to do, but I almost wish there was a legal requirement for people to indicate their basic end-of-life wishes in writing. Of course, these decisions would no doubt change over time, and the document would have to be updated, which would no doubt be a mess in some situations. Bureaucracy can be a big ugly beast, but the flip side is this void of knowledge, and a desperate family member forced to make life or death decisions for their loved one.

It was excruciating to watch my mom, who was in charge of making my dad’s health decisions, keep avoiding the DNR request, despite pleas from me and the medical staff. I know in her heart she felt she was doing the right thing, by giving Dad every chance possible to “recover.” But as those who have dealt with Alzheimer’s in their families know, that recovery is limited at best.

I say the above even though I’m not entirely sure what Dad would have wanted at the end of his life, if he had been in his right mind. Would he have been as afraid of the DNR order as death itself? Perhaps. Would he have wanted the broken ribs that came with the CPR that was given to him on the day he died? No, of course not, no one would.

I think Dad was most fearful of the unknown that comes with death, despite his religious beliefs. Did Alzheimer’s erase that fear or add to it? I wish I knew.


Filed under Memories

3 responses to “Dad’s fear of death

  1. Alex Jones

    People are afraid of non-existing. Existence is a sense of I, a sense of self, a sense of intelligent consciousness. Dementia erases the “I” leaving only a shell, the living dead. In the most advanced of dementia your father ceased to exist in that body.

  2. Pingback: The dreaded conversation | The Memories Project

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