The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

When being strong isn't a strength

.
"Does he have any chance?"

"He is strong"

"So?"

"It will take him longer to die"
Conversation with doctor about a man dying from the plague
From the film, "Flesh and Blood" 1985


Sometimes these lines haunt me


.

38 comments

Falak said...

Slow death is a frightening concept ....

starrlife said...

Haunting is a good word for it...

cannwin said...

There are lots of times in life when strong isn't strength. I have a friend whose nine month old baby died recently. At the funeral everyone kept telling her how strong she was. She wanted to scream at them.

Several years ago my husband was sent to Iraq for 18 months and everyone kept telling me I was so strong. I felt the same way (like screaming).

It's not strength that keeps you going when you are enduring trials. You keep going because you have no other options... people can say 'you're so strong' all they want but they aren't there at night watching you cry yourself to sleep.

Strength is a matter of opinion.

Patrick said...

Really can't imagine the pain that he had to go through..

savannah said...

yes, sometimes it just comes down to whatelse can you do, sugar. xoxo

Pat said...

On the other hand you could say we are slowly dying from the day we are born.
Anybody would think it was Monday.

Gillian said...

Brings up brutal images of Quintin Tarrentino movies...

Crabbers said...

Be strong to be useful

The instinct of survival is stronger than anything, no matter what the good hearts say some, it is nature!
Only the moon gives a direction to the night and the sun a direction to the day...
The force is a thing, but the heart is another.

Sang said...

I have friends suffering from trauma and severe depression. They don't consider themselves to be strong. They consider themselves to be alive.

Charlie said...

I can't say it any better than Sang.

erika said...

The thought that life merely consists of 60-70-80 years of "prolonged dying" on earth after which we fade away and cease existing is scary indeed. For me personally, it's easier to make the leaps of faith it takes to grasp eternity than to face the possible pointlessness of my existence.

I love it how you elegantly compress these heavy-duty questions into your literally morsels :) What did you say your background was again, philosophy? :)

bonequinhoda bic said...

The only line that´s benn haunting me sometime from little while back now is the famous quote from Obama "YES WE CAN"
Man, this sucks because it pops in my mind even when there´s stuff I don´t want to do.
O.K. Thank´s 1

Just Curious... said...

I really get where this is coming from. My journey with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has taught me that not all strength is a good thing.

My nature is to endure and push through both physical and emotional trauma. But sometimes this is a bad thing, the longer you fight the harder it clings on. Sometimes the best thing to do is to just be there and experience it.

You can't push or rush through the bad things in life you just have to remember yourself and those who are important to you.

1+2+2=5, 1+2+3=6: 56 said...

seeing as how you're trying to make sense of yourself in the wondering about the universe, have a read of a poem i wrote called "Destiny led the existentialist to his grave...?"

http://thoughtsdreamsrantsandbeliefs.blogspot.com/2008/06/bdestiny-led-existentialist-to-his.html

Maybe it will give you an interesting perspective on life. FYI I'm a wannabe philosopher. I've always wanted to go forth and study it.

Library girl said...

Very haunting. Makes me think of my Dad.

Cindy said...

oh dear, here's what lept to my mind...
My Adonis resembling chronic alcoholic son.
His strict diet, body building, cardio...and fifth of vodka (or whatever it is) a day

Reality Asylum said...

When do you make the decision to give up fighting death and attempt to enjoy what little life you have left?

It is a difficult choice, i'm sure, when those closest to you don't want to see you go and couldn't possible understand a choice to accept a sooner life sentence.

Midnitefyrfly said...

for me being "strong" is really just a matter of your personal choice of what is better for you at that moment and can be influenced by current feelings or life long values.... and sometimes completely disrupted by pain- emotional or physical.

Katie Roberts said...

....and then there's living each moment fully. Experiencing all those amazing colours and flavours you are served or choose from the rich feast of sensations and emotions that is life. I imagine a feast of strange and wonderful fair, that can delight, disgust or surprise. All part of the vivid intensity of being alive and the wonder of being on earth in a body.

Postman said...

Ain't it better to go out with a bitter struggle than just fall down and die?

YOSEE said...

one of the ironies in life, when "strenghth" becomes a "weakness".

Kim Ayres said...

To maybe expand a little on the thoughts behind this post (and yes, Erika, I do have a background in philosophy :) ).

Essentially there are 2 aspects to this.

One is physical - when someone close to me died. Without going into all the details, a point was reached where food and fluids were withdrawn and the person was given sedation or painkillers if they showed signs of distress, until they died.

It took 11 days.

11 days from the time it was decided there was no further hope and the person should be allowed to die, until they passed away.

11 days.

There was no hope of recovery - death really was the only option. But the law says, even in these circumstances, it is illegal for the medical profession to hasten a person's demise. It's OK to starve and dehydrate them to death, but not say, give them an overdose.

11 days.

And the other is more psychological - that sometimes, when we go through yet another trauma, the fact we survive feels like we are only prolonging the pain rather than recovering from it.

Please bear in mind you are reading the writings of someone who has suffered from Depression on and off throught his adult life; is aware of his mood drops and swings; and won't take any notice whatsoever of "look on the bright side" type comments...

Mimi and Tilly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pat said...

'The thought that life merely consists of 60-70-80 years of "prolonged dying" on earth after which we fade away and cease existing is scary indeed.'

Erica: just to say I don't believe in the latter part of the quote. I don't believe we fade away and cease to exist and I don't find it scary - on the contrary. That's just me.

erika said...

Pat: I don't believe that either. That's why I continued with "For me personally, it's easier to make the leaps of faith it takes to grasp eternity than to face the possible pointlessness of my existence."
I don't believe that we fade away and cease to exist, but regardless, the thought itself is scary. Sorry if I was confusing. English is my second language, plus I never sleep :)

Crabbers said...

Forgive me , Kim Ayres , which is the purpose !? And forgive the translation !


There can be experience only of life, because human life is presence to one, conscience. There is not therefore experience of death, it is what they do not come back from. Those who come back there, come back "from doors of death", an instant of hope, of peace. It is always possible to explain it by these chemical substances which, we know it by contemporary science, are secreted in last instants.
The death, for us, it is the disappearance of a me and words that he pronounced.

However, they speak on mort:les some people maintain that she is the final end because soul is material, and because it decomposes at the same time as the body (in it Platon answers in Phédon where what is not composed, cannot decompose); others on the contrary hope that soul is undying, that death is a passage or even one born day. Of course, these speeches are beliefs between which it is impossible to decide by proof.
The fact remains that any best love is accompanied by the belief in the immortality of love.

They should not be afraid of death: for fair reason it is possible to fear suffering.
But death deprives us of very sensibilité:n' it is not to waste his time and to be rather ridiculous that to be afraid of what they will not be aware of.
But, it is possible to be afraid to lose this precious good that no reasoning is vie:dans these conditions will alleviate us of this loss.
More sly than fright is anxiety, fear of the unknown, of nothing particular, of future. But if death is the end of the temporalisation, of future, anxiety does not clear itself.
Anxiety of death consists merely therefore of fright as much as subject thinks that there is a future, for him, in spite of death.
For those who fear a punishment after death, they owe punishment demander:un of whom, by whom? It cannot be a punishment of a God perfection which wants nothing, that fears nothing and therefore is not led to punish or to reward (see again in Epicure, Letter in Ménécée).

Platon maintains that the body is a prison which prevents us from achieving to tell the truth. Death would be a deliverance which would give accesses to the contemplation of the truths éternelles.mais it is necessary to differentiate the objective body, the one that represents us science, the one that others see as an object, and the subjective body. I can really say that I have a body (then, I could leave him) or while I am my body what would return a deliverance very problematic: can I lose what I am without disappearing?

Crabbers said...

Suite...

Suicide / euthanasia... In both cases, it is well a question of killing himself, one even as long as it is possible to make him, thanks to the assistance of other one when it is not possible to make him any more. It is therefore a question of morality and of right: is it legitimate to kill himself, he complies with right to kill himself? It hires therefore in personnel terms a moral reflexion on respect for life and on lawful plan a reflexion on action.
The fact remains that in both cases, it is possible to ask question: to kill itself by one even or with the help of others, it is not to refuse her in some way: is it possible to speak about a missed death and in which sense?

The one who tries to commit suicide often merges difficulties which he feels with existence, its life. This error leads him to throw, to sacrifice life while it would be necessary to try to reduce pain. By sacrificing his life, he removes any possibility of joy. Some people will say that the suicide is an act of freedom but there is always the risk of a badly treated depression: in that case, the suicide is determined by depression, by regulating centre of mood which is blocked as one might say in the region "sadness". It is not therefore any more an act of freedom but a determined act. That's why, very often those who are tried to finish, in one spoken, what gave occasion, in a dialogue to search a determination which did not appear to them.


In conclusion: Paradoxically, existence has death for the end. The immortality of human existence would perhaps make us lose seriousness and application of the one that knows that its instants are limited.

I saw my Father dying! As well as my brother! Quite two at the same age ( 55 years).

Brittan said...

It is haunting, but underneath it seems to underline an innate drive to live despite whatever the circumstance may be. More of a primordial thing than strength, so I think that Cannwin's right when she says "it's a matter of opnion"

Kim Ayres said...

Crabbers - I hope I've got the gist of what you are saying from the translation...

Death itself doesn't bother me so much because, as you say, we will not be aware of it then - death will mean the cessation of conscious thought and experience, so will no longer be of any concern.

Long, drawn out dying, however, is fearful.

And where euthanasia is concerned, I understand the need to have restrictions in place against helping people to die who don't need to - perhaps what they need is medication, counselling and friendship. However, at the point that even the medical profession has decided death is inevitable, then I do not understand why they cannot lend a helping hand.

Crabbers said...

I will abound in your direction, as regards the medical profession!
it is the therapeutic eagerness which is alarming! The Human dignity is very specific because, according to Kant, this person does not have only like the things, a value, a price, but it has a Dignity, i.e. a feeling of respect of it even which in fact an end in itself and makes that it should never be treated like a simple means…
For this reason the medical one should be humbler (see human).
Two things which I retain of your answer which is me basically just seems T it: friendship for and in the accompaniment and the helping hand to stop the pain…

Would prefer a French version, just, Which would give you the choice of a translation ?

In a friendly way

Crabbers - Crabtree - Or simply DIDIER

Kim Ayres said...

Crabbers - I'm definitely struggling with the translation. Perhaps if you try posting in French I can try out different translators :)

Entrepreneur Chick said...

This subject of a drawn out death is not something you give a mind to unless it happens to someone you know. Someone close to you.

When my father died- or rather- before my father died, I came to understand how impossibly long *they* can keep one alive on life support.

You know, in the 1800's, there'd be no lingering like that.

I'm sorry for your 11 days.

Angie's Lil' Nothings said...

Working in the ER and ICU death and I, we have met. It is horrible to see someone kept alive by medications and machines and pure selfishness by the family or the Dr's who refuse to let this dead person die. The fear of ligation from grieving families keeps the Dr from making the right choice and the guilt felt by the family for letting their loved one die keeps them (the family) from making the best choice. It is just a horrible cycle. And then when the family/Dr/patient makes the right decision, the best decision to die (when all else is hopeless), the medical field fails here too because we can't help these patients go quickly and painlessly.

My mother-in-law lingered for 7 days without food or hydration before she died. The dr's assured us she would die quickly because of the brain damage suffered from an aneurysm that had burst. It took 7 horrible, lingering days. No one should have to suffer like that. We even followed her wishes and she still suffered.

It's a broken process.

Mimi and Tilly said...

Hi Kim, thanks for visiting my blog, especially after I wrote a comment and then deleted it. I've been reading your blog for about a month now, and love it. I deleted my comment as I find the topic of loss, and particularly the topic of experiencing a slow, difficult death, painful to talk or write about. I have experienced the reality of watching a number of close, deeply loved relatives go through the different stages of terminal illness. They all suffered deeply and profoundly. One relative in particular, who I was very close to, suffered more than I have seen anyone suffer. After eight years it still feels so raw, I don't have the words to express clearly how my world changed after watching what she went through. I appreciate your blog because in writing about your experiences of loss, you are writing the words that express how I feel about her death. There are no bandaids for the reality of loss. I appreciate your honesty. Sending smiles.

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks to everyone for their comments

Mimi & Tilly - on a blog post like this, some people will gain from reading not so much the post, as the comments that go with it.

Your previous comment fitted well into this post so that's why I was surprised you deleted it. Thank you for taking the time to comment again

erika said...

It always amazes me how much you inspire people. Look at all these comments! One of the lies of depression is that we are alone and isolated and going through the darkness all by ourselves. If you have this kind of effect on people who only know you "virtually", I can only imagine how much love you are surrounded by in the "real world".

Chastity Flyte said...

I'm sure you've probably heard about this already, but a great friend of mine who has suffered with ME for 20 years is remaining optimistic with this latest piece of research. Fingers crossed, m'dear!
http://www.meassociation.org.uk/content/view/1033/161/

Kim Ayres said...

Erika - you are definitely one of my favourite commenters :)

Chastity - thank you for that - a few people have sent me links to similar articles, but I'd much rather receive several than none because everyone assumed someone else would have done it :)

All content copyright of Kim Ayres. Powered by Blogger.