My brother Nathan, who is studying to be a doctor, linked this article a little while ago, which I found fascinating. In short, doctors, who are surrounded by death and dying a lot more than the average human, quietly just let it happen to them. They know the (sometime) futility of heroic measures, which are very possible in our age of advanced medicine, to give patients a small amount of extra time alive, many times at a very low quality of life.
I also saw this RadioLab podcast on much the same subject. The article accompanying the podcast had a great chart. "
Clearly they aren't as interested in these heroic measures. The 90% of them that don't want CPR is actually a fascinating statistic to me. Because, like, right now I'd be fine with CPR. But when I'm older? Nah.
Not so much for me. The Catholic conception of the preservation of life is that it extends from conception to natural death. I'm a lot fuzzier on the conception part, but I'm totally down with the natural death part.
Why? It's just the way of things.
“Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe.
We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”
-Neil DeGrasse Tyson
So, when my time comes, just let me go. It's the way of things. It's also why I want to be cremated, and so have to outlive Susan (because she says she won't give me a viking funeral).
Also, I'm an organ donor. What? It's not like I'll be using them. And sometimes other people use them better than I would anyway. Like my friend Charity, and her awesome TEDx talk on organ donation.
Edit (3/3): I also found this great article on the subject from the Washington Post, "Our Unrealistic Attitudes About Death, Through a Doctor's Eyes."