There is More to Tragedy



My friend, old and passing, said,
“There is more to life than staying alive.
Don’t rescue me too much.”

On his farm, twelve miles out
by rough gravel roads, he is done

with plowing, spraying, harvesting.

But he is not done watching the sun
sink below the windbreak or listening
to the nighthawks above his fields.

Don’t make him move to town.

There is more to tragedy
than dying.

~Kevin Hadduck “A Note to His Doctor”




2 thoughts on “There is More to Tragedy

  1. “There is more to tragedy than dying.”
    What a powerful statement. It had to be made by a person who knew what he/she was talking about —
    first hand. I witnessed the forced removal from the home of a widowed close friend made by her adult children. There was nothing that I could do. It tore my heart out to see what this betrayal, this cold calculated move, did to my friend. She died within three months of leaving her home.
    There were other alternatives that were available but the children were not interested. They just wanted
    the whole decision made so they could get on with their lives without encumbrance or responsibility.

    I have spent enough time in geriatric and hospice care hospital wards and in custodial nursing homes, and have friends who work in that environment, to understand the sentiments expressed in this letter. To see an aged friend or loved one — or any human being – hooked up to life support or a patient being sedated who doesn’t know consciously if they are still alive seems to me to be cruel and inhuman treatment. When the body (machine) fails or breaks down and there is no hope of recovery or return to any kind of normalcy, it is time to “let go and let God” as the saying goes.

    Forcing an aged or terminally ill relative or friend to leave their home and the familiar environment where they have spent the better part of their lives, raised families, and were productive, contributing members of a community should be avoided at all costs. It should be an absolute last resort decision – one made by the individual and not forced upon them by family or other outside persons or agencies.
    It is crucial that people make the necessary pre-planning to preclude such actions by having explicit legal directives in place while they are still in good mental and physical health.


  2. Alice, you are so right. There are deeper tragedies than death and they are happening every day in our health care system. I liked this poem (published in a medical journal) as I’ve known farmers like this, and I suspect I may be one too…


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