THE SHADOWY PATH

I’m doing things differently in this blog and starting with a photo.

This shadowy path was captured earlier this month and shows the blackthorn blossom in full bloom and the celandines brilliant in the sunshine. In the middle of the picture in the distance there’s a seat, that’s really important now I’m old. I really look forward to reaching somewhere I can rest near the end of the walk. While the earth is bursting into life Covid19 controversies are flourishing in the media, one of the latest is on end of life care. 

Naturally everyone would like good care at the end of life but what is good? Is it good to resuscitate people near the end of their lives? When would it be good to put away the crash trolley and simply provide good palliative care and support? There’s useful information on end of life care at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/end-of-life-care/  but in the end what anyone feels about these difficult questions will depend on their circumstances, experiences and beliefs.

It’s easier to provide good end of life care if everyone knows what the dying person feels, and a personalised advance decision, often known as a living will, can make this clear. There are many options to choose from at https://compassionindying.org.uk/choose-a-way-to-make-an-advance-decision-living-will/

I’ve also written a living will poem to try and express feelings that can’t be conveyed in the legalistic prose of an advance decision. 

LIVING WILL 
 
Before my heart began to beat
in the secret darkness
of my mother’s womb,
death began to shadow me
like a hawk with hungry eyes 
hovering above a hill.
 
So if I see him dive for me
then Doctor help me dodge him 
and I’ll trust you with my life.
I’ll follow your instructions,
and promptly bare my body 
for the scalpel’s expert touch
or the cunning killing rays 
that penetrate my flesh,
I’ll swallow any medicine
that helps me cling to life.
 
But if I’m mired in fatal weakness
and my sadly tangled neurones
get me snarled in thorny thickets 
of amnesia and confusion,
can I trust you with my death?
 
Can you bravely put aside
all your hi-tech wizardry,
give me tender remedies,
soothe me with some poppy juice, 
give me comfort and relief,
help me welcome death’s embrace,
for he’ll kill my final grief,
and though he’ll scatter all my atoms
each will be absorbed again
into the secret darkness
of earth’s abundant womb

Anne Bryan

PS I couldn’t resist adding the daisies.

8 thoughts on “THE SHADOWY PATH”

  1. Thank you Anne. Very thoughtful and thought provoking. A calm and considered poem. Found the seat in the photo. Looks a perfect place to sit quietly. Loved both photos.

  2. Very interesting and thought provoking blog. I love the photos too particularly the one of the shadowy path in the woods

  3. You wrote my script Anne but so more eloquently!!!!
    So refreshing to read a well balanced approach to end of life considerations.
    Thankyou

    1. Thanks Susie, Lyn, Jane and Shan. I’m so pleased you like the blog and think it well balanced, sensible and thought provoking. I was a bit hesitant about blogging on a conntroversial subject but so far all comments have been positive.
      Anne

  4. I really love this one. I love the botanical references in this topic which soften it and make it feel more natural. The thorny thickets reference to confusion is very evocative.
    I also like accompanying photo which makes the reader think of the end of the tunnel/path/life as a place of rest and beauty

  5. Hi Anne,
    That’s a good one. Thoughts which are echoed by many I’m sure. We all need some ‘tender remedies’ – what a lovely choice of words. I like the look of that bench too. X

  6. I thought this was a beautifully written poem Anne and very thought-provoking. I liked the neat way the poem started in the womb and went back to the womb – Mother Earth? Very accomplished poem.

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