Killer jests, but is serious.
When do you want to die?
That is a question that many people scoff at and think, “Never”, but it is inevitable. The question should really be, “Do you want to live?” The answer, for most people, is very much dependent on when you ask.
I hope those reading this would immediately answer, “Yes, very much so!” Or at least a diminutive, “I guess; there is an Everybody Loves Raymond marathon on tonight.” Occasionally, however, the question is asked when you are unable to respond.
Say you are jogging one day, you are the poster child for good health, a city bus driver is distracted by a tourist asking for directions, and you get flattened. Modern emergency medicine revives you on the scene, scoops up all your intestines and what might be your spleen, and rushes you to the nearest trauma center. Dozens of highly motivated people work around the clock to put you into workable order, but due to the traumatic crushing injury to your torso, the massive loss of blood, and the raging infection you picked up from what turned out to not be your spleen, but actually a squished turtle, you spend the next six months on life support. The prognosis is grim.
The doctors all inform your family that if by some miracle you do live the best possible scenario would have you spending the rest of your life as an unthinking, unfeeling vegetable; a giant summer squash, which will require around the clock care.
To some people it might seem obvious that you would not want to live like that, but to your family it might be a little more complicated. It is never easy to make the decision to pull the plug. Maybe they will develop a cure for what ails you in a few years. Maybe the doctors are a bunch of idiots, and you will wake up; perhaps as a super hero with the special powers of a turtle.
If you haven’t explicitly informed your family exactly what your wishes are, you are leaving yourself in their hands. This means your crazy brother Billy can decide to keep you alive and use your inanimate body in his car for using the carpool lane. The point is, you should never trust people to know what to do in a dire situation. Tell them now, let them know, or better yet, create an advanced directive. That will serve as the ultimate decider in case you are incapacitated; either by a rogue bus driver, or from the coronary you will have for sitting on your ass reading blogs all day.
Personally, I am in luck. My family is heavily stocked with people in the health care professions. These are people who have been properly jaded by years of seeing the worst case scenarios for every imaginable illness. Not only do they know when to pull the plug on me, but everyone is fully aware that death is a natural part of life, and letting someone suffer is not going to help the grieving process.
I had the flu a while back and stayed in bed for a few days to recuperate. When I finally did emerge my family had already written eulogies and ordered a head stone. I probably should not have told them about my life insurance policy.
Nobody wants to end up on their death bed, but if you do, be prepared.
Advanced Directives/Living Wills