A question of Dignity


“At this moment there are places of care where we many are left to die alone, and this because of severe and absurd interpretations of measures that they tell us to protect life and health. It is no longer tolerable”.

A question of Dignity

A question of Dignity

"There are places of care in which we are not able to enter to hold the hand of our grandparents, in which they prevent us from accompanying a suffering family member in what could be the last moments of their life, in which a woman can be forbidden to say goodbye to her husband and the same to a son with respect to his mother, a brother with respect to his sister. It is an injustice". The open letter sent to Le Temps by some French medical students. They closed their letter in this way:

Is death - death? In reality and in our culture, death is death when it is accompanied by the dignity of a farewell, of a last word. It is not a matter of consolation, perhaps only a little, but of respect for life. Life that passes, that is extinguished or goes beyond. Who knows? And that must be accompanied, in fact, with dignity. Or, rather, it must be accompanied, period.

How life should be accompanied and found. "That you are here, that life and the individual exist, that the mighty spectacle continues" (Walt Whitman). During the first wave of the virus the impression was of a struggle experienced by patients in solitude. An authentic loneliness, if conceived as a relationship to loved ones. Less so if we involve the nursing staff, nurses, nurses, doctors, in the reasoning. But as much as a smile, with eyes only, alas, given the masks, it's worth a smile - so a lot, a lot, without being able to calculate the price -, what makes the difference in this case are the smiles of those who love us beyond the humanity of a moment, empathy and the concrete sensitivity of a profession. Here, in that first phase, visits by relatives to patients were actually forbidden, not allowed given the epidemiological situation, the stress on the health sector, hospital in particular, the risk of new infections, the lack of adequate protective material.

Only goodbyes were granted. Yes, that was granted. But at that time our perception of death linked to the virus was confused, clouded by other images, by other situations, by ignorance of chance. The military vehicles outside the Bergamo hospital, the massed coffins. However, those are the snapshots that marked the first wave. The second is different, they don't stop telling us.

The funeral announcements are back to being more numerous and then one almost falls into the temptation to think about it, once and for all. Let's go back to the letter we started from:

"By pretending not to feel suffering, we become unjust, we lose what makes us human beings".

In short, those medical students wrote this in the middle of the second wave, in the midst of a crisis that has hit especially the cantons of Rome, overwhelmed by the coronavirus, from what we in the south of the Gotthard had already experienced closely. From 29 October the CHUV, the Vaud hospital, as well as others in the region, closed doors to visits. Three days earlier, on the 26th, in our canton, those patients with COVID-19 were once again allowed. A detailed protocol has been drawn up on several points, but efforts have been made to go beyond video calls, guaranteeing glimpses of presence. As EOC Nursing Head Annette Biegger tells us, it became clear during the first wave how important such flashes could be, how much risk and organization and protocols were worth the candle. Not just for a last breath, but to try in every way to keep that candle burning. Because dignity is also represented by these attempts, by a prayer - for those who believe, by a joint cry or by the promise of a hug, of future, authentic smiles. No, for the sake of the cynics, that loneliness is not tolerable, and worse to

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