We as Americans seem to have a thick skin when it comes to violence and death. We only gasp if the circumstances are tragic, but even school shootings and deranged murderers are becoming the norm. Movies, tv, video games and nightly news provide us with more than enough sad, grotesque stories so that we get our fill everyday in one form or another, but when it comes to actually dealing with death, we as a nation are infantile.
Dying is the only thing that we are promised when we are born. We are not promised long lives, or fortune, but we are gauranteed to die. Whether it be the next day or a century later, we will all die. It's not something that crosses our minds frequently, unless you are surrounded by it. Over the past few years I have seen more than my fair share of death, and dying. Bagging bodies has been a part of my job for at least the past 5 years. I'm the one who washes Grandma one last time before the mortuary or medical examiner come to get her. I have bagged and tagged so many people that sometimes I think I have become immune to it, or maybe immune isn't the right word... I've hardened.
We all get dead somehow... some people die tragically, they die young, they die on accident, those are the deaths that haunt me. Others die old, way past thier expiration date, and they are kept alive on machines and medicine like live rotting corpses. Those are the deaths that could be so much more graceful yet for whatever reason (usually family) these people waste their last days trying to escape the inevitable. I hope to never become one of those people.
I wanted to write about death to inform people about options like P.O.L.S.T.'s (physicians' orders for life sustaining treatment) that you can have made up by your doctor and keep on your person so that EMS and other people know what you want done if you should die. It's really geared towards terminally sick people but can be had by anyone. And of course the DNR (Do Not Ressuscitate), again generally geared towards old people living in a nursing home, but I know that if I fall off the side of a mountain, break my neck, and have to live my life as a spinal cord injury, on a ventilator for the rest of my frickin' life... I would rather not. Other people have and they are happy and content and wouldn't want it any other way! But I know I couldn't do it. P.O.L.S.T's and DNR's keep people like me from doing compressions on your chest and breaking your ribs while we try to save your life.
Death does not scare me. I am afraid to die only because I will miss the people that I love. My friends and family that have already died are missed and loved, but I know they are only a thought away. Maybe it's because I believe in reincarnation, maybe it's because I've seen too many people dead from their own actions. It's true, I have hardened. But as far as death in general goes... know what you want... tell your friends, tell your family, tell your doctor. It's important that we get to die like we want to.