Navigating loss is never easy. No matter how old our parents get, we’re never really ready for when they’ll leave the earth. I was discussing this with a friend when they revealed their grandmother’s rather strange request: She didn’t want anyone to spend on medical bills if she ever became seriously ill. 

Intrigued, I got on the phone with mama’s carer, and with her help, got mama (75) to share her reasons.

As told to Boluwatife

Image designed by Freepik

My children think old age has affected some parts of my brain, so I make sure to repeat the same statement at least once a month: You people should let me die if I ever fall terminally ill.

I’m 75 years old, and in my lifetime, I’ve seen friends and family members battle sicknesses for years. They pile up huge medical bills for their family, and eventually still die. The death that strengthened my resolve not to go the same route was my husband’s.

He died in 2018 at 71, and he was in and out of the hospital for four years before that. 

His health battle started with a mini-stroke in 2014. He was admitted, and doctors said, “Oh. Thank God, it’s nothing serious.” That was until they found cancer in his chest during routine scans. Again, they said it wasn’t too serious because it hadn’t advanced much yet.

A year and several chemotherapy sessions later, the doctors had changed mouth. Something about the tumours moving to other body parts. My children gathered money and took him overseas for better treatment. No one told me how much it cost, but I could see in their eyes that they were stretched thin financially and emotionally.

About three years after the initial diagnosis, my husband was declared cancer-free. We did thanksgiving at church and even gave away food items to less privileged people in gratitude. 

Six months later, my husband slumped. The cancer was back, and it caused his kidneys to fail. He had to include dialysis to his long list of medical procedures. This time, my children came to ask me if their father had any money saved up somewhere. 

He passed away soon after. I was heartbroken. After all we went through, it seemed like we only delayed the inevitable. I don’t want to put my children through the same thing again.

So, I’ve decided I’ll die at home. I take blood pressure medication and pain relievers for my arthritis, but if I ever develop a terminal illness or a sickness that requires long-term treatment, I’ve told them not to take me to the hospital and just care for me at home. I’ve lived long enough already. I’d rather die than become a financial burden. If they go into debt and sell their properties to keep me alive, but I still die due to old age, what use would it have been? Instead of going through surgery or chemotherapy, isn’t it better for me to cross over peacefully?

I think my children still don’t take me seriously even though I’ve been saying this since their father died, but I won’t stop reminding them. Maybe the next step should be to tell them that my spirit won’t let them rest if they make me suffer my last days in a hospital. 

I’m not scared of death, and they shouldn’t be too. Everyone has to go at one point, and I prefer to go in a way that won’t burden anyone. I’ve had the privilege of seeing my children marry and become successful, with their own children. What more does anyone want?

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