Isabelle Guisan wonders about the preparation for the end of life, of a loved one as well as hers.
November followed a glorious month of October. And, as usual around All Saints’ Day, many death-related topics crackled in the media. There were cemetery visits renamed “necrotourism”, all the more popular as the place is “unusual”. An RTS topic on VSCDs, hear people who have gone through a “subjective experience of contact with a deceased”. A news on the rising number of deaths in Switzerland. And an interview on how to talk to children about death. The exhaustive list would be long.
The Toussaint’s festival allows us to “go from macabre death to friendly death”. We explore new funerary rituals, looking at the side of the first peoples. All this in a conviviality and a form of lightness that is no doubt welcome.
So what? We’re still not going to degumme the good intentions that apply themselves to untabooing our finitude! But what a gap in us between the discourse, the collective reflection, the convivial sharing out of context, and the moment when we really find ourselves facing the end of life. That of a loved one if it is not yet ours.
“Preparing for the end of life of a loved one as well as your own is of course a slow interior process but also a work of investigation.”
Many of us on the senior side focus on the scarecrow represented by the prospect of “finishing up” in EMS. But how many concretely anticipate the transition to addiction, discuss it with their loved ones, take the time to investigate in advance, outside of emotional stress, what our society offers to make the end of life perhaps sweeter, the moment came?
The range of support services
I am thinking of the various aids to calmly fulfill your advance directives, by talking to your doctor about the values you hold dear. I am thinking of the range and operation of home help services, private or subsidized, to be distinguished from care services. I am thinking of the offer of courses that train volunteers ready to offer their presence, such as those who are named thanato doulas. Without forgetting the services and places dedicated to palliative care which vary from one canton to another.
Preparing for the end of life of a loved one as well as your own is of course a slow interior process but also a work of investigation. Work, to resume by multiplying the approaches. Latest for me, the reading of “Dying”, the very clear and concise little book, published in 2014 by Gian Domenico Borasio, professor of palliative medicine at the CHUV. “A powerful anxiolytic”, summarized the journalist Sylvie Logean in “Le Temps”.
A huge task
So what? I like to imagine that municipalities offer, free of charge and to good taste, very accessible moments of preparation for the end of life. If the offer already exists in Lausanne, mea culpa, I am not aware. The book “Dying” could be made available to everyone. A bit like not so long ago the Bible in many hotel rooms. I imagine the little shock of the newlyweds who discover this title in the drawer of the bedside table… We are not there yet.
There is not only the unacceptable, namely our inevitable disappearance. There’s also everything you don’t want to explore concerning the body that goes away, that comes undone. Having recently seen the film “Amour” by Michael Haneke (Palme d’or 2012, Oscar 2013) where a husband – Jean-Louis Trintignant – accompanies his wife at the end of her life – Emmanuelle Riva – recalls the immensity of the task: to accompany towards death, to approach it oneself, by trying to widen the limit of one’s means.