The New Year is almost over. My life has been traditionally marked by Burning Man as the end of one project, beginning of another. This year I did not attend Burning Man, but interestingly enough, my connection with that particular rite of passage grew immensely. I look forward to returning next year, and plan on making it's theme "Rite of Passage," a major learning theme in my life this year.
My career as a nurse has shown me that the rite of passage that is death has been marred and manipulated by Western medicine and the Western ideal of hospitals. Please understand, I believe we do great work in the hospital saving lives and elongating life. However, I have seen too many cases where a patient is so obviously on the dying process and we forgo the signs, and utilize invasive tactics to sustain life for only a bit longer and with a very low quality of life (ie hooked to machines, pt not aware of surroundings). It is my belief that the rite of passage of death should be taken back. Not only is the patient's life quality affected, but so is the family. Please let me die at home. Let me struggle to breathe, rather than unplugging a machine.
Having just completed a Rite of Passage, my marriage to Nascar, I am convinced that our community does not place as much emphasis on the "hard" rites of passage. Marriage is something for a wedding planner to plan, birth can be scheduled as a C-section, and death should take place by unplugging the machines that are substituting for my lungs. I refuse to live this way and look forward to investigating these thoughts both artistically and professionally over this next year.
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