Texting While Dying

Texting While Dying Rachel Donnelly December 8, 2021
Texting While Dying

A sweet friend of mine died last week. She was 44. 
After multiple surgeries and intensive treatments for her rare cancer, she realized her body just couldn’t fight anymore and entered hospice care. 
During her last week, she called many friends to say goodbye and from what her best friend told me, she struggled to know what to say. When it was too late and visitors became too much, friends, including me, texted her to say our goodbyes. I, too, struggled with what to say. It felt so cold, impersonal and trite. I ended up texting her that I loved her. I hope that was enough. 
Her best friend, who is also a good friend of mine, told me that she became overwhelmed with text messages because she felt the need to respond to each and every one. She was struggling to stay awake and to read her phone. Her best friend began to take it away more and more to give her a break and let her rest.
This got me thinking about death and modern technology. While cell phones allow us to keep up with friends who we don’t see often or who live far away, these devices demand our constant attention…..even at death.
The brilliant Jennifer O’Brien, aka the Hospice Doctor’s Widow, says it best: 
“There are no do-overs in end-of-life.”
Truer words have never been spoken. Even though my friend had amazing support from family, friends and hospice at the end of her life, she did not go without suffering.  It was a constant struggle to manage her pain and therefore, she was very uncomfortable.
So my question is: Did modern technology hinder or help in this situation?
Was technology a tool for communicating her final feelings and thoughts and vice versa for friends and family? Or, was it a meaningless device that demanded her attention in her final moments? 
Knowing how much of a role her cell phone played in the end of her life, looking back, should I have texted her at all? Did I make the situation worse by trying to make myself feel better? What would I have wanted to be done differently?
The truth is that I don’t know. I do know, however, that I am going to miss her. She was a bright light who flashed through my life and I am honored to have known her.
My goal in writing this is to not to upset you, but rather to make you think about what would be important to you at the end of your life. Would you want access to technology in order to say your goodbyes? Or, would you prefer to not be tethered to a device?
If you’re willing, I would love to hear your thoughts. What do you think? In that situation, would you want a do over? And if you don’t wish to share, please consider jotting down a list to share with your family one day soon.
Remember, there are no do-overs in end of life.

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