Ms. McKeown is correct that being loved and loving is useful. As she surmised, his family did tell him and view him as useful. I and his grandsons utilized his knowledge regularly and enjoyed his company. However, my father was an intensely dynamic person who felt that since he couldn’t do what he did all his life, then life had lost meaning and satisfaction for him. His feelings of being useful or not are his own thoughts, and he had every right to have them. Self-realization is the essence of being human, and no one should be denied the dignity of their own feelings or choices in life.
Ms. McKeown seems confused about what palliative care is. My father had the best palliative care from the caretakers and hospice who provided it. Its purpose is to ease as much discomfort as possible before one passes away. Palliative care by itself does not make someone loved, happy or satisfied.
My father was declining rapidly and risked suffering a stroke or other debilitating illness that would further confine his physical abilities and perhaps his mental ones as well. That means he could have spent the last weeks or months of his life trapped in his body and perhaps unaware of his surroundings. That is hardly conducive for him to express and comprehend love. He feared a situation like this all his life. Other people may desire to squeeze every second of life they can out of their existence no matter what their condition.
I and my sons miss my father. We do not miss the agonizing suffering that he expressed and endured in the last week’s of his life. No one should be forced to endure such a burden unwillingly, especially for a vague, philosophical notion that life should be preserved even if the person who once lived that life no longer exists.