Is there a right time to die? What does the notion that life would have been “enough” (which, it is thought, would bring some comfort or at least some relief to the anguish of thinking about our own death) depend on? That was the question asked by the oncologist and writer of the American site The Atlantic, Ezekiel J. Emanuel, in an article published some years ago.
If the dialogue about grieving is already a great taboo, thinking about one’s own finitude is a big challenge also. After much reflection, the doctor defined for himself an exact number of years that would be the ideal to be lived: 75. The argument he brings has to do with the idea of “attainment.” Once your physical and mental capacities begin to decline from a certain age, you are unlikely to make contributions that you believe are important in different spheres. Emanuel argues that life loses much of what makes life worth living after a certain age. “Here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss,” he says.
When we think about death or we are going through grieving the matter of “value” always comes up. It is common to hear phrases such as “so-and-so passed too soon” but, after all, sooner or later these are individual points of view. Is it better to live the last few days feeling weak already having celebrated 90s or passing “unexpectedly” and inevitably catch a lot of people by surprise? There is no easy or even less definitive answer. The interesting point that the article proposes is that we come a little closer to the idea of finitude – and make peace with it.