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No one really wants to die – and it’s never easy to decide to do nothing to prolong our physical existence. However, when unnecessary pain and suffering intrudes in late life, we can take one of two possible paths.
We can just simply fall apart, and be bitter and angry toward everyone, particularly with the Creator, crying “Why me?!”
Or alternatively, we can accept the inevitable fact of impending death and bow down to that inevitability. Sooner or later, we all get there. We can work as hard as possible to tie up all our loose ends, accept the fate that comes to everyone, and be at peace with ourselves and the Creator.
But even when we do make peace with the impending end of our physical self, that “Why me?” question sometimes rears its ugly head and destroys our inner peace.
I have had free-floating anxiety since my childhood, and it has had a great negative impact on my life, especially regarding my own inner peace. Fortunately, due to my professional training as a therapist, I have always been able to determine the reasons for that experience at any given time. With some deep breathing, prayer, and meditation, I can become calm once again.
However, during these past few months my anxiety episodes have become increasingly more frequent and more severe, to a point that I would feel hot and cold along with inner trembling and weakness. At one point, I even had difficulty using a fork. A few times, I thought maybe I should ask my oncologist to prescribe an anti-anxiety medication, but I do not want to use any mind-altering substance if I can get myself out of these episodes by rational thinking and of course by repeating the soothing and calming Baha’i prayers, like this short but powerful one from The Bab: “Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding!”
In the past this practice has always worked for me.
But recently, I encountered another problem that added to my anxiety – I felt conflicted about stopping my cancer treatments, and worried that not continuing them would be tantamount to suicide, since committing suicide does not accord with the teachings of the Baha’i Faith.
Since then, my oncologist has assured me that I would not be committing suicide – that instead, I would be letting go of a body that can no longer resist its natural demise. During this process, my oncologist has became a really good friend who I love, trust, and respect very much. My dearest friend Anne and I, after consulting with my oncologist, came to the conclusion that since all the available medications, either in pill form or infusion, have severe side effects, I should stop any kind of treatment and let my body and the cancer take their normal course.
Since then, my anxiety has diminished considerably, and I feel so relieved.
The lingering apprehension I still have isn’t about death at all – instead, it’s the fear of pain, depending on where the cancer might further metastasize. As I mentioned, I can usually calm my physical pain by rational thinking and self hypnosis, which blocks or reduces the perception of pain to a satisfactory degree. But since I was diagnosed with cancer, I have observed the people with hard-to-tolerate cancer pain and I do not like it. The prospect of that kind of pain frightens me. I think I may have Chickenitis – LOL!
However, my oncologist and I have agreed, if the pain starts and I cannot tolerate it, she can use any medication she has in her arsenal. At that time, I’ll probably be beyond caring whether my mind is altered or not, and I’ll hopefully be able to pass carefree into the next world.
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So at this point I am at peace, cancer pain free, with minimal anxiety and a happy, hopeful outlook. Reflecting on this beautiful passage from the writings of Abdu’l-Baha: “Supreme importance should be attached, therefore, not to this first creation but rather to the future life,” I am patiently waiting for the All-Knowing and Merciful Creator to decide when my visa on planet Earth will expire and issue me a new and permanent passport to the eternal spiritual Kingdom beyond this material plane of existence.