Published on: June 15, 2019

See the excellent article by Viji Sundaram in India-West: As Death Approaches, Older Indian Americans Unprepared for the End

In India, we have a paradoxical situation wherein the poor die better; in their homes most of the time, surrounded by family, with a few drops of water when the throat is parched, and a loving hand to hold. The rich, on the other hand, suffer alone, imprisoned in intensive care units, a painful tube in every orifice, arms and legs bound.

In the USA, such intensive suffering is almost certain unless one has prepared an advanced directive. A legal document has to be prepared beforehand if one is not to be on ‘full-code’ – that is, if someone is not to jump on their chest and squeeze it some hundred times a minute, as hard as they can, often till ribs crack. And then, following the resuscitation, the elderly person dying a natural death finds himself half-dead, hooked to a machine. Again, alone, in agonising suffering.

What a paradox that you have to write a legally binding document and have it witnessed, if you are to protect yourself against an irrational medical system!

When will the modern, brave new world of health care recognise that death is the inevitable consequence of life, and realise that the most important thing for that person could be medicines for physical comfort, yes, but also a loving hand to hold?

Thank you, Ms Viji Sundaram, for this eye-opener for many.

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