06/22/2010 11:47 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Death and Dying: Whose Life Is It Anyways?

There was an article in the New York Times yesterday entitled "What Broke My Father's Heart." It was written very personally and yet very professionally at the same time by Katy Butler.

This daughter explains, "At a point hard to precisely define, they (her parents) stopped being beneficiaries of the war on sudden death and became its victims." The article demonstrates in lucid detail how people can "lose control of their lives to a set of perverse financial incentives -- for cardiologists, hospitals and especially the manufacturers of advanced medical devices -- skewed to promote maximum treatment."

I have a really simple question. Why in this life is it so difficult for people to face the hard questions? Why is life set up in this country especially to distract us from what is most important? Why is it acceptable to fill up a life with meaningless and superficial pursuits when addressing the serious responsibility of being authentically and consciously alive is rarely questioned?

Okay, I got carried away. This is more than one question. I post this because I think this is exactly what people don't want to take the time to think about, and yet, in this society, in this country, this is the future many will face first for their parents, and then for themselves and their friends and beloveds.

It's high time we demand accountability.

Reading this late last night, I thought of my grandmother who died at the age of 97 in 2006. They'd inserted a pacemaker a few years before, and during those last years she kept saying she should have let herself go then and never had the pacemaker implanted. When the moment came, it seemed agonizing for her. At the end, she was supposedly unconscious for the last hour or two, but to watch her and listen to her as I did at her bedside it was all but obvious she was in agony. Her soul was tearing away, but her body was not giving up the fight. It was no simple stoppage of breath, but this long drawn-out groaning and moaning, this look of terror on her face which froze when she died, eyes and mouth wide open. And this was unconscious?

I've always appreciated that Arianna Huffington keeps an eye on the importance of unplugging and recharging. Stepping away from technology long enough to reconnect with what is really important, the natural flow of life.

When stress eats us up inside because we never get a break -- when we can't make a decision because we are torn and fragmented in so many different directions. This isn't true living. This is what is killing us.