I was going thru old newspapers again — since I stopped subscribing to the Straits Times a couple of years ago, I’ve taken to reading what my nephew’s family discards.
The papers could be a few days old to as old as a few weeks. But never mind. The essential and earth shattering news I’ve already picked up via the Internet, TV or radio and often all three media.
I read old newspapers for the stuff that doesn’t go beyond print, for whatever reason. Sometimes I read the stuff for amusement. Other times i read to “kay poh’.
So, natch, I zeroed in on Dr Lee Wei Ling’s column in the Sunday Times of Oct 31 about her recently departed mum and how logic told her, given her mother’s condition, death would be kinder. Yet she couldn’t control her emotions when Mrs Lee Kuan Yew actually passed away!
Dr Lee wrote: “But when it came to my turn to speak at her funeral, my voice broke and at one point I had to cover my face as it was twisted with anguish.
“I was ashamed of myself. Emotion had supplanted logic as I remembered Mama.”
Dr Lee needn’t be ashamed.
At the heart-level, most thinking people, looking at a patient in vegetative or semi-vegetative state, with no quality of life, would think it might be kinder if Death crept in and ended the suffering.
This is especially when the observer is a medical doctor who more than the layman understands the hoplessness of the situation.
Yet at the heart-level, when the patient is a loved one — a parent, a spouse, a child — laymen and professionals are alike. They would hope against hope for that miracle, even if the probability were one in a billion.
Because when there is life, there is always hope. Once life is snuffed out, all hope is gone. Hence the devastation, the grief, even disbelief.
I know. When my dad passed away quite suddenly aged 87, I was in absolute disbelief and insisted to the nurses in charge of the shrouding room at the at Changi General Hospital that he couldn’t have died. It was all a mistake! Of course it wasn’t. I was just hysterical with shock.
It’s good that Dr Lee grieved and allowed her grief to show. It was not weakness. Her emotions are entirely normal, human and natural.