Faced with Motor Neuron Disease (MND, also called ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease), an ultimately-fatal illness with an average life expectancy of just over 2 years, Hannah Rachel Bell addressed her desire for her "leaving to be as healthy as my living." In this New Philopher essay (http://www.newphilosopher.com/articles/living-in-dying/ ) Bell shares the prism through which she finds acceptance, even enlightenment, in her illness. Her brilliant essay brings important insights into the discussion of how we might live our own lives, and deaths, so that we might more fully embrace them.
Notable quotes from the essay:
"A major driver of this healing urge in others – the professional medical industry and alternative therapeutic practices – is to prolong living regardless of the natural cycle of birth, life and death, and regardless of an individual’s acceptance of their experience of the process."
"Hope is irrelevant. I see hope and fear as two sides of a coin, and I have neither."
"From Christians to Buddhists, and through the lives of people on death row to saints, there is an internal process of acceptance that at some stage walks with the drive to stay alive. This actually enhances the journey of leaving. Hope never dominates because fear dissolves. The drive to heal doesn’t consume daily life as a desperate struggle to live. Seizing the day on the journey to death can be much more challenging and exciting."
"This acceptance of impending and foreseeable departure confronts us with our own cultural values and attitudes: our fears around death and dying, our hopes, our anticipation and/or avoidance of grief and loss, and our capacity to respectfully share the journey of the departing."