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John de Ruiter Podcast 482

John de Ruiter Podcast 482

A Life Support Dilemma: Clarity Moved by Love

When: July 13, 2020 @ 11:00am
A delicate and complex issue is opened up that goes to the heart of a family dilemma: is it right to prolong the life of a parent who doesn’t always want to live? Who decides? John and the questioner deeply consider every angle together in search of real clarity.
“You’re there to give and to do what’s clear in the two of you to give and to do, and it’s love that moves that clarity, in whatever direction.”
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Podcast Transcript

A Life Support Dilemma: Clarity Moved by Love

Q: John, we’re taking care of Stephan’s father who has Alzheimer’s dementia. We’re now at a point where it’s really hard for us to see the way forward. It’s quite an amazing experience. When he has clear moments he is clear he wants to live, and he’s really enjoying us and, basically, that we are with him is his reason to want to live. But he’s, at the same time, from his Alzheimer’s condition, at the point where he actively tries to not live anymore. So he doesn’t take any liquids, he doesn’t want to eat, and it’s really, really difficult for us to see how we should be in that. We did start drop-feeding him liquids. But I’m not sure if that’s the way to go and what the next steps in this are, like, do we prolong his life with interfering? Or do we not? What is really true in this?

John: There isn’t a universal answer to that. If he had a depth of presence despite his condition, that would warrant a direction that’s particular to that, in how to deal with him. That would really change if he doesn’t have a depth of presence.

Q: Yeah, the difficulty is that that depth of presence is sometimes there and sometimes not there.

John: But when it’s there, is it there unconditionally or is it there conditionally? He can have a depth of presence when he comes back into his normal self, and he’ll have a depth of presence, conditionally, when he feels really good in seeing the two of you. So his depth of presence is dependent on him deeply feeling love, dependent on the two of you being there, whereas a depth of presence is going to be in a depth of okayness that isn’t dependent on anything on the surface.

Q: I can see the difference, because in the depth of okayness he’s really okay with leaving this life. It’s more that when he sees us and the children that he’s in the “love, want to live” situation.

John: It’s difficult, because that then puts the responsibility on your family to spend time with him so that he has the desire and the happiness to live. That part is not your responsibility. That’s his. You have a relationship with him, but that doesn’t make you responsible for his happiness.

Q: But with being the only relative, it’s a responsibility for deciding about his life.

John: Yes. And then that needs to be weighed in considering multiple levels and not just the surface level.

There’s a value to his life, his time, the family’s time, the family’s presence, that has a greater value than to just keep someone happy. So there can be much done to artificially prolong life, but there’s a point to which that may not make sense. The deeper the presence to the person, the more the levels involved in a person, the more value there may be that’s recognizable to the person – multi-leveled value – in being artificially kept alive.

For instance, if someone exists just as a personality – they’re identified not just with themselves but with the personality, so they are being a personality – if they’re undergoing great suffering and they’re being artificially kept alive, they’ll have no deeper value to living like that. Then they’ll want to die, not want to be in all of that pain; that they have no reason within to being kept alive in such a manner. So to keep them on a life-support may not be fair to their identification with their personality. It may not be fair or clear to project deeper levels on that person when they’re not in those deeper levels.

Q: But if they are, say, at least in the level of the heart and maybe in the level of the being, somewhat?

John: That may be there, but then is it unconditional or is it conditional? If it’s conditional, then it’ll be projected onto you that you’re needed for that person’s happiness. As soon as you’re close, they’re in their heart. As soon as you leave, they’re not in their heart.

Q: Is not wanting to live letting go of all the strings connecting to this world?

John: If he doesn’t want to live and he’s on life support, there is a value to giving him his direction that’s held, or his preference, even though he may have moments where he changes his preference. But as those moments become smaller and smaller, then there’s more weight that would be given to his overall preference.

Letting him have his overall preference, even though there may be moments, isolated moments, where his preference changes. It’s difficult to weigh that out, and it’s a difficult decision to make.

Q: It’s difficult to, because he still has clear moments where it’s a clear preference for life. It really is conditional on us being close.

John: Your lives are of greater value than being confined to keeping someone happy or keeping someone okay. His happiness is first his responsibility. There may be something that’s in your care and your relationship with him that you’re responsible for, but you’re not responsible for his happiness.

Q: There’s so much that I did learn over these months about really all levels, and about what really matters or what really doesn’t.

John: There’s much to consider, and it’s a difficult decision whatever direction you take. There isn’t going to be, in the whole situation, a perfect solution.

Q: Yes. That is very clear.

John: What he wants is not real. Concerning deeper levels, what would matter is what is he actually clear about? If he were to be clear, at some point he would send the two of you away, regardless of the cost for him. If he had a deep level of presence, at some point, he would be like love saying to the two of you, “It’s not for you to stay here.” It’s uncommon for someone to have such a level of clarity where they could see the overall goodness of something that is not in the favour of their own comfort, but to move in that clarity. That would take a high level of maturity.

Q: We need to look very closely at what is there and where a tipping point may be also for him. Because, I mean, he’s not going to say anything like that, one way or the other.

John: It may be that at some point you would leave, even though he doesn’t want you to, and he may then project onto the two of you how he feels about that. What’s usual for people is to go into levels of disturbance if they don’t get what they want.

The two of you are not there to give him what he wants: you’re there to give and to do what’s clear in the two of you to give and to do, and it’s love that moves that clarity in whatever direction.

Q: So if our clarity in whatever we end up doing leads to the length of his physical life being shortened, that is also a large responsibility to carry.

John: Yes. What helps in your process is to not think because you feel, but to think because you’re clear. That clarity is deeper than feeling, and you’ll then feel that clarity.

Q: So not to feel guilty about anything, but to come from clarity and then the guilt will also go away, huh?

John: Start with some measure of clarity and then think from within what is already clear. That expands, through thought, the clarity. But if you think because you feel, you live in a feeling box that your thinking is used to support and defend.

Q: Wow, there’s a lot of beliefs to let go in that!

John: Yes.

Q: It’s really beautiful because I can see all there is to learn in that process coming at us now.

John: Don’t make decisions based on your realization and your experience that you’re learning so much in the situation.

Q: I can also see that we’re at a point now where there is a change. It’s like the journey is taking a turn, I don’t know where, yet.

John: That’s fine, as long as the journey is taking a turn not because of how you feel, not because of what you think, but because you’re clear. And the change in your journey is because you’re thinking and feeling from within that clarity, so then, in that, you realize a time of change or a different direction. Just don’t start with feeling or thinking: start with clarity, and it doesn’t matter how small that clarity is; it can be almost nothing. But if you don’t have your feet in that clarity, then whatever you work with in your hands, that you hold in your hands, that will determine your walk.

If your feet are in clarity, regardless of how almost nothing that clarity may be, but you keep your feet in the clarity, then whatever you work with in your hands and you hold in your hands, clarity will use thought and feeling to come to greater degrees of clarity concerning something that’s practical.

Start with the clarity. Keep your feet in the clarity and hold anything in your hands and work with anything, but don’t step away from standing in the clarity just because of what you hold in your hands.

Q: I had a moment where I could see like a picture from a future point, and it didn’t come with any information on how to get there, and it puzzles me really because it doesn’t really fit the plans, as if there are any.

John: What first matters is: what is the source of that picture?

Q: It’s just there.

John: But there’s a source to it. Don’t follow a picture unless you know its source, so what you’re really following is a source to you that’s clear. And if that manifests in a picture then you can follow what appears to be that picture, but you’re really following the source that you know, that’s clear to you, that produces the picture.

Q: There’s so much I don’t understand.

John: That helps you to be clear.

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