Death & Dying Writing Assignment
was getting in the car to drive to work when Amy screamed, “Stewart! Come listen to the news!” We figured out pretty quickly that it came in right about the floor where she worked, the 96th. By the time the tower came down, we knew for sure that she died. With a normal death, you prepare for the grieving process. With a shocking death, it hits you by surprise. My wife was about to give birth to our first child, and my mother had plane tickets to come down on Friday. You get into the part of it where you mentally play back the events. Mom (typical, for her) had gone into work early so she could leave for a dentist appointment. If she’d been a less responsible person, she would not have been there at 8:46. The other weird part of it is, like, the whole country feels they own pieces of this tragedy and need to constantly remind you about it. So it doesn’t go away.
My mom didn’t have young children, but she was looking forward to retirement, to being a grandmother, and so she was cheated of all those things. Not only did she die in this horrible way—she died at an unacceptably early age.
…In his seventies, my father seemed immortal. While he often joked about being an “old man,” he had no major infirmities. At age 81, mortality hit. For a few months, Dad had been listless—not his old self, suddenly looking old. Then came the unforgettable call: “The doctor says that it’s cancer of the liver. Jan, I’m going to die.”
Because medicine never admits defeat, the plan was three rounds of chemotherapy, punctuated by “recovery” at home. The doctor said, “Maybe we can lick this thing,” but the treatments were agonizing. Worse yet, recovery never happened. My father got weaker. After a few months, he could barely walk. Then, before going into the hospital for the third round, my mother called: “Last night we cried together and decided not to continue. We’re calling in hospice. I think it’s time for you to come down.” My father had two more weeks to live.
A day or two before you die, you slip into a coma. It’s the preceding week or two that lasts for years. Everyone has been summoned to bustle around a train that cannot be derailed. Yes, you can talk, but what do you say? My father was never a verbal man. Then, as if on cue, the disease picks up speed. From the wheelchair to becoming bedridden, the voice that mutates into a whisper, followed by waiting…for what? You force yourself to be at the bedside when the breathing gets slow and rattled, but you are terrified. You have never seen a dying person. You don’t know how things will go. Above all, you hope that things go quickly. You can’t stand to see your father suffer anymore.
My father died in the “normal” late-twentieth-century way. Although we knew nothing about how exactly peopledie,we had plenty of time to plan for the event. Dad’s death came at the “right” time, at the end of a long life. The kind of death Stewart’s mother faced on September 11 was horrifying, unexpected—totally outside the norm. How does death really happen today? How did people die in centuries past?
Read the chapter on death and dying in your textbook.
Write a 2- page paper about your experiences with death, what things you would like to happen before you die, what legacy you would like to leave in this world, what you believe happens after death, etc.
Use one professional reference (not your textbook).
Paper must be written in APA format
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