The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I am a woman in my 60s. My father’s wish not to use life-sustaining treatments wasn’t honored. That still brings me to tears.
My father, who was in his 90s, passed away this spring. He had received dedicated nursing care from my older sister at her home around Tokyo. He lost his appetite about six months before his death, and he was given nutrients intravenously at the advice of the hospital.
My father left an envelope bearing the message “I do not need life-sustaining treatment” on the front. My sister knew that.
I opposed the treatment, but the hospital apparently explained to my sister that this would help my father get better, telling her that it was not life-sustaining treatment. It was very hard for me to see my father physically restrained after refusing intravenous needles and then pulling them out.
My daughters were also angry. My eldest daughter proposed that she take him to her home, but the proposal was rejected.
This experience still upsets me. How can I be more peaceful?
R, Ehime Prefecture
Dear Ms. R:
You are troubled by the fact that you could not satisfy your dying father’s wish, aren’t you? I can imagine how hard it was for you to continue to see your father physically restrained, which broke my heart.
On the other hand, I imagine that you and your older sister locked horns over the best possible treatment for your father, and I was impressed by the care your father’s daughters showed him. You wanted to let your father have a peaceful end like a gracefully dying plant, while your sister decided to continue treatment because she believed her father would get better again.
Your father closely watched his two daughters, who seriously thought about his final days, even though their opinions were divided. Furthermore, your eldest daughter, who is his grandchild, even said she wanted to take care of him at her home.
I think your father was happy as he was loved by you all this much.
Why don’t you first express your gratitude to your older sister who took care of your father? I think you are not the only one to be upset. Having been blamed by you, your sister must be having a difficult time.
I think the best thing you could do as his daughter is get along with your sister, thinking of your father who completed his long life.
Masami Ohinata, university president