July 14, 2024
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July 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Painful Journey Towards the End

I must disagree with Dr. Alfred I. Neugut’s “Facing Death” article published in the June 13, 2024 issue of The Jewish Link. To me there is no greater pain than watching a loved one inching away bit by bit as they negotiate the journey towards death. Like leaves falling from a rotting tree, experiencing your loved one slowly losing their ability to think… to communicate… to clean themselves… to walk… to laugh… to hug or reach out with a gentle touch… to become a memory of who they once were, is unbearable, but worse still is knowing that somewhere in their consciousness they are aware of what they have lost, and the pain and fear you see in their eyes is the deepest cut of all.

Even Dr. Neugut concedes that what “we really fear when we think of dying? In my view, we fear pain and disability, the loss of our usual normal lives.” I agree and fear that no amount of modern medicine with all its advances can relieve the patient—or their family—from the pain of a slow death. And while a sudden passing is shocking and difficult for the survivors, the pain pales in comparison to watching the suffering of a loved one who has lost the ability to experience the simple act of living, whose every waking moment is filled with anxiety, fear and pain unless under potent sedation.

My feelings may not be in the majority and I recognize that many may take comfort in Dr. Neugut’s reliance on the “management available in the modern medical armamentarium,” but in the past six months I have experienced both sides of the death coin and every day I relive with tears the slow passing of a loved one who I watched revert to the child that he had left behind 90 years ago, while I can instantaneously pull up cherished good memories past the pain of the instant passing of another loved one who flew with the angels directly home.

Barbara Angelakis
Hackensack
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