During a recent storm, I chose to listen to music played by cellist Yo Yo Ma.
The music was written by John Tavener and entitled “Wake Up …. And Die”.
This appears to be a contradiction. Rather than make distinctions, the notes discuss the connection and similarities between living and dying. The music is a combination of solo cello and cello with orchestral accompaniment. While listening, I was not sure which musical phrases referred to the aspects of living and which referred to the aspects of dying. I read the program notes. I listened again.
I began to think about the end of life. The focus of many conversations very often is “wake up …and die”. Patients, friends and family often request low doses of medications thinking that this will maintain alertness and wakefulness. People want to be awake to die. Or, they request that medications be decreased, a few dialysis sessions be offered, or an IV. This is a request to literally wake up and die.
During this time, people discuss their lives. Family and friends share memories. One person often assists in bringing people together. This is the last chance to connect. This is the last chance to resolve personal issues. This is a command to metaphorically wake up. They are to awaken to their psychological selves and to environment so that they can die.
I hope that you will listen to “Wake Up …and Die” by John Tavener and share your reaction.
Watch and share this five minute video about the need for prophylactic end-of-life conversations. Laura Heldebrand, an ICU nurse tells her mother's story.
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