In A Very Easy Death, Simone De Beauvoir said, “She (her mother) had a very easy death; an upper class death.” But it wasn’t an easy death. In this frank account of her mother’s struggle with intestinal cancer, Beauvoir not only reveals the struggle to release our loved ones but also the lies that we sometime perpetrate to spare them of suffering. The process of dying was gruesome, even for her mother, who wanted to keep a stiff upper lip. Worse were the doctors whose only goal was to keep the patient alive, regardless of pain and suffering, both physical and emotional. “… even when I was holding Maman’s hand, I was not with her -- I was lying to her.” Her mother losing her dignity as a human being is one of the most disheartening parts of the account. For many, like Beauvoir’s mother, dying may be a far worse ordeal than death. A must read for anyone who wants to prepare for and face death.
Posted by Leonard Seet
Labels: cancer, death, dying, French literature, French writer, memoir, nursing home, Simone De Beauvoir, suffering
Leonard Seet is the author of the novels Magnolias in Paradise and Meditation On Space-Time. His short fiction have appeared in the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Banana Writers and Pilcrow & Dagger. Through his writings, he probes the dynamics of existence, including human consciousness, good and evil, and rationality and spirituality. He received the B.S. in Physics and B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an MBA from Georgetown University.