Quality of dying


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One of the many Rohingya refugee camps in eastern Bangladesh

November proved to be a difficult and eventful month both for me and my family. Although not unexpected, we were all shocked and saddened to learn about Dad’s passing. Departures of people that we love and care about, frequently, challenge us greatly. This was definitely a case with me. The time of coming to terms with Dad’s death created lots of questions that I tried finding an answer to. So I was wondering about the importance of my family, about my friends, about priorities in life… I was wondering about the speed of my life, about the sense of my work, about privileges that I enjoy and about people suffering from wars and conflicts, especially in places that I am familiar with personally. People often wonder about your life quality, but I could not stop thinking about quality of dying. While, it is clear that Papa Maciek suffered tremendously in his last days of life, he also enjoyed an amazing care that was provided to him by the doctors and medical staff. Given how seriously ill he was for years, the doctors managed to extend his life by at least 8 years. He was ill, however we also won a lottery of being able to live in a place where the amazing medical care was possible. 

I remember learning about my father’s death, right after I visited one of the refugee camps for the Rohingya people in Bangladesh (fleeing violence in Myanmar). When I was there, together with my work colleagues we had a chance to learn about the fate of some of the Rohingya ladies, who bravely gave us their account of what had happened to them before they reached the camps of Bangladesh. One of them explained to us that the soldiers came to her little hut in western Myanmar, killed her husband with a machine gun, took her little baby boy, smashed his head against the stone, then threw him in a fire. After all these horrors she was gang-raped and ‘allowed’ to go. Yes, I realise that what I am writing is an extreme that most of people will never experience, yet… this happened to a woman, to a human being that we talked to just days before my own father’s death. 

I still do not know how to comprehend the story of the woman, whom I did not know, but touched me so profoundly and the story of my father passing - the man that was dear to me and I loved. War and peace, privilege and destitution, wealth and extreme poverty… 

So I am sad, and I am saying good bye to my father whom I loved, and to the Rohingya man and the baby, whom I have never met, but are somehow important to me too. Rest in Peace Good People! So long, until we meet together!

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