I read something earlier this week about how the European approach to health care and dying is so different from here in the States. It was an interesting read and gave me a lot of food for thought. The approach i many European countries centers on “life care,” while in the US it seems to be more about preventing death.
Death is inevitable. We are all going to die. That’s a fact from the minute we are born. We hope we get to live a rich, full life until that day comes.
The article talked about cause of death statistics, especially in light of the Corona Virus. While deaths from the Corona Virus are skyrocketing, other causes of death are decreasing. You see, we have to die from something. If we make healthcare advances in heart disease, we might see an increase in cancer-related deaths – or vice-versa. We can’t prevent death. Here in the US, we seem preoccupied with the cause of death and preventing it.
For anyone who doesn’t know, I lost my oldest child to suicide due to drug addiction. That was her cause of death. Had she not committed suicide, she might have died one day of an overdose, or she might have beat her demons and lived a happy life for 70 more years. Eventually, though, she would have died of something. Moving the tally-mark from the suicide column to the cancer column or the heart disease column is just that.
From the beginning, the Covid-19 measures were to “flatten the curve” and prevent hospitals and health-care workers from being overwhelmed. This was never about making the disease go away. It likely won’t. I was resigned to the fact that we were going to come into contact with it from the beginning. At the same time, I know enough people in health-care that I don’t want to make their jobs harder.
At some point, though, people will get it. Are we now just putting off the inevitable? There are some theories out there that they won’t be able to develop a vaccine for this. Even if they can, it’s at least a year away. There are people I know who will starve to death by then if things don’t open up, since in this country we don’t believe in taking care of the least of us. Is dying because you starve to death better than dying of the Corona Virus? That’s what we’re looking at right now. If you don’t know people who are that on the edge, consider yourself fortunate. I know quite a few.
We can’t stay at home forever. On another post, someone decided I needed a “history lesson” about the Spanish Flu. Well, a flu vaccine wasn’t developed until 1945. Should all those people who died in 1918 and 1919 stayed at home until 1945? There was even less of a social safety net then. Would dying of starvation or exposure have been better than dying of the flu?
If you have the ability to stay home and that’s what you choose to do, more power to you. If you have the ability to stay home and you want to live your life with some balance, more power to you (that’s what I’m doing, or trying to). Either we have to give people the security of knowing they won’t starve or face a winter with no heat or other provisions, or we need to start letting people decide for themselves whether they are going to work. We are headed into a time when some people make the bulk of their income (over the summer) and won’t make it through another winter without it.
Either way, if you manage to survive this pandemic, all it means is the tally mark for the reason you die isn’t in that column. Maybe you’ll get to live many years and be happy and things will be great. Maybe you’ll spend your life in your house waiting for a vaccine that never comes. None of us knows for sure.
As the saying goes, nothing is certain but death and taxes. The only difference is semantics.