The Albuquerque Death Cafe meeting on Saturday, August 9 drew 11 people to join in mortality discussions with host Gail Rubin, CT. Our Death Cafe mascot Lola sported a new look at his event.
The new location at the Swiss Alps Bakery Cafe was a bit noisy inside, but after we moved out on the shaded patio, it was easy to hear everyone. All the food and drink they serve is delicious!
We started out discussing “donating your body to science,” the process of giving one’s body to a medical school for research and study. The big benefit to the family is a no-cost disposition. The medical school handles the costs to pick up the body, cremate it after it has been utilized, and return the cremated remains to the family.
It’s important to have a “Plan B” in case the medical school has all the cadavers it needs when death occurs – something that happened recently in Albuquerque (see blog post).
Dr. Aroop Mangalik, one of the plaintiffs in the physician aid-in-dying ruling in Bernalillo County, provided an update on the status of the ruling, first issued about six months ago. Attorney General Gary King, who is running for governor, has appealed it to the New Mexico Supreme Court for a ruling whether physician aid-in-dying would apply to the whole state or be denied. It may take two to three years for the state Supreme Court to rule on this.
As of now, there is no stay order to stop doctors in Bernalillo County from offering aid-in-dying to terminally ill, mentally competent adults. However, doctors are waiting to hear if there will be such a stay order or not before moving forward. Dr. Mangalik noted that aid-in-dying has surreptitiously been done for a long time. A doctor might write out a prescription for 50 Percoset pills and say, “Now, don’t take all of these at once or it will kill you.”
Discussion of the spirit came up next. Jane said, “Death is a birth…. Spiritually, it’s just another step. The Spirit goes on forever. Leaving your body is like stepping out of your car.” Socrates called it “the me that walks away.”
Almost all religions teach eternalness and oneness in varying ways. Each person is like a drop of water returning to the great ocean. We are never truly alone. And still, there is fear of the unknown that makes so many afraid of dying.
Two attendees talked about their own near-death experiences, which were very different, and not frightening at all.
What does scare people is pain. Pain can be so bad you lose your sense of identity. Pain can shorten life. People also fear the loss of power or control, of their mental faculties and physical abilities. We discussed how relief of pain with medications can lead to a shortening of life, as well as improve and extend the life of those who suffer.
- Green burial and when will a conservation green burial ground become available in New Mexico (answer – possibly by Spring 2015 – more news to come).
- The unanticipated requests for organ donation when someone dies in the hospital (it’s up to next-of-kin to make that donation decision on the spot).
- Home burials on rural land – the Office of the Medical Investigator is getting 3-4 requests a month or more, and they are open to facilitating releasing the body to the family instead of a funeral home.
- Young people need to be made aware of the importance of stating their desires in wills, advance directives and organ donation options. While it’s unfortunate that tragic young deaths enable others to live through organ transplants, those lives saved can be a blessing for the families of those who die young.
The next Albuquerque Death Cafe will be held Saturday, September 27 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Swiss Alps Bakery Cafe, 3000 San Pedro NE, Suite F, Albuquerque, NM 87110. Phone: 505-881-3063. Join the Meetup Group to be kept apprised!