Art of Dying Art of Dying_Volume III_joomag - Page 39

Through them we learn about how we want to live our lives. Living in Humanitas over four years I’ve learned that if you say ‘elderly’ you're targeting a group. People here are not a group. They are individuals. Each resident’s room is a world of different backgrounds and experiences. Everyone shares stories that impact me as a human being. I think my neighbors are happier than they were before students started living here. All of us benefit from our mutual happiness. We can revive their youth. Through them we learn about how we want to live our lives. When I was younger, I wasn't at ease with death. I thought it was a terrible thing, a loss. Living here has made a real difference. Now I know that when life is finished, you experience whatever you believe in. Most of the people here are really fine with dying. They think "Well, I had a great life. I put my children through school, they have a great life, and now I'm finished." In a sense their life is finished because they start losing their identity the moment they move in here. People had lots of hobbies and items that related to their individual character. And when they come here, their family says "Okay, we will sell the lot. You don’t need what doesn’t fit in your room.” It's like, “You're settled now. You're being cared for.” But nobody really wants so much care because care is the same as losing your freedom. Your character starts falling away. Days become the same. Some people have lived here sixteen years. I'm 23, so they moved here when I was in preschool. What they have done and what I've done in sixteen years is incomparable. They've done a couple of things, maybe knitting, or something like that. Why aren't they doing what they used to do? We as students try to say, "What do you like to do? What are we going to do now?" The residents say "I used to ... I did this in the past…I had.” Who they used to be is more alive than who they are. Their past defines them. There’s no definition about who they are now. It’s not always good that we do things for them. We want to know what they can do for themselves. “Are you going to do something with your life, or not?" It's a shame that I'm 23 and ask that, but sometimes I have to. VOLUME III | 39