Die or Get Off the Pot – Excerpt from Part II   When the Moon Dances – A Memoir of Becoming the Oldest Generation

December 22, 1996

…I remember when my Grandma Annie was in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s, almost comatose and not eating, it seemed logical that she felt ready to die.  She should have been able to just stop eating if she wanted to, but they wouldn’t let her. Voluntarily not eating is a withdrawal to death that seems non-violent and makes sense to me.

Now I wonder about Mom. Maybe it is just her time and we are forcing her to stay alive by feeding her. But, what if she can recover? When do we respect her choice and when do we decide that her choice is incompetent and should not be honored? What about the Eskimo elders who traditionally went out into the snow to die? I believe in the right to choose a conscious death. I wouldn’t want to be kept alive against my will. The question remains: when do we “let” Mom choose to eat or not to eat? I don’t know if there are answers.

Today has been difficult –is this my new normal? I feel so discouraged. I thought, “I’m bored. Now what?” Going to the hospital twice a day for what feels like nothing is getting to me. This afternoon I stayed with Mom a long time, hoping for at least one word or at least a sign. It’s kind of like “die or get off the pot.” I’m angry that I am bored. I’m angry about a lot of things now. I know this is a stage of grief – the anger stage. I accept it intellectually. I feel it now, strongly, when I write, alone with my thoughts. When I am with Mom I get caught in hope or in wishful thinking. Now the anger wraps me like a heavy blanket. I need to write it down, although I should go to bed so I can wake up to more of the same routine. How tiring –both the anger and the hospital visits.


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