Is Death Painful?
In my cardiac residency while undergoing super specialisation, I was once sent to the outskirts of Delhi to shift an affluent unresponsive patient to our hospital for further management.
While our team resuscitated the patient with 20 escalating high energy DC shocks followed by intubation and ambulatory Life Support to be shifted to Delhi.
Being in charge as a resident of the patient , I got an opportunity to observe almost each milestone in his recovery from pulse-less state to driving home himself with all his confidence !
The patient would get multiple episodes of ventricular tachycardia post cath in ICU and each time we would load him with amadiarine followed by DC shocks …I never saw fear of death in his eyes …
He remained in hospital for about a month and a few days before his discharge from the hospital , I asked him why I could never see any fear of death in your eyes ?
He would say !
It is painful to die?
I would miss this beautiful world
Despite movie scenes of oozing blood, foaming emotions and tear-jerking punch-lines; death need not necessarily be painful…
First let us detach pain from death; and view death without pain.
Death Sans pain
Well, ‘death without pain’ happens to all of us, roughly every 12 hours or so, when you hit the bed. As you go to sleep, your senses cut out from the rest of the world; you don’t talk to people; neither do you respond.From your internal perspective it is exactly like dying.
But, the reason why your family is not alarmed is because they know that depending on where you are, the harsh alarm of your phone, the aroma of Noon-Chai or the high pitched voice from your partner will wake you up…Suppose you don’t wake up; initial shock, some pandemonium and mandatory rituals later, you would be featured on the ‘obituary’ page, with nice things written about you, chunks of which are mostly untrue.
For all of us , sleep and death are the same; since we won’t experience the difference; but our kin and friends would.
So, the bottom-line is; death won’t make you feel bad; it is exactly like sleep. You won’t be there to feel anything.
As long as it is painless.
As a cardiologist,I asked the same question to many sudden cardiac death survivors and got mesmerised with revelations ..
For none of them, the ‘natural’ process was painful. Most said, they went on to a dreamy state; like drifting on to ‘sleep’..
They did feel the pain, once they woke up and survived; but that pain was entirely ‘medically’ inflicted. The broken ribs resulting from cardiac massage, the burn from the defibrillator, the sore throat of endotracheal intubation; and those scores of needles and tubes plunging inside them.
But once they survived; that memory of pain faded away; giving way to the joy of survival.
200 year ago, Freidrich Wilhelm Adam Serturner discovered ‘Morphine’ the most potent painkiller, and named it after the goddess of sleep ‘Morphia’ making sure that we can alleviate even the most severe pain.
This is to reiterate the fact that one should detach the fear of pain that we automatically associate with death.
Why should you be afraid of death?It is painless.It is like Sleep.You won’t miss anyone (People might miss you but it won’t matter to you anymore).Most people would talk good about you.The world will not stop.This makes death the second-best option.The first one of course is life.Let’s Live to Die!
The author is Consultant Cardiology, GMC Anantnag
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.