I would like to thank Viji Sundaram, and India-West, for the excellent and timely special report, "As Death Approaches, Elderly Indian Americans Unprepared for the End.”
As a retired oncologist from the University of New Mexico, I have treated many patients with cancer. Some had a good response to the treatments, but others did not. Those who accepted the fact that all cancers or other diseases cannot be cured, suffered less than those who denied the reality.
Your article focuses on Indian Americans, but many native-born Americans also suffer because they deny this reality.
I know of many friends and family in India who have suffered a painful death because they or the family denied the inevitability of death. This is paradoxical, since the Bhagwat Gita says very clearly that the body dies but the soul lives on. This contradiction was brought up by Kavita Radhakrishnam when she said, "Yes, this Karma thing is a huge barrier." I am glad that she is studying this phenomenon and how and why it is a barrier to Advance Healthcare Directives in the Indian American community.
The efforts of Dr. M.R. Rajagopal are commendable, and I hope the movement expands in India. I am aware of the work of Harmala Gupta in Delhi, he has done some good work (firstname.lastname@example.org).
It is gratifying to see that a number of Indian Americans are involved in this effort. The reporter mentions Dr. Suresh Reddy, Shubhada Saxena, Dr. Vijeyanthi "V.J." Periyakoil, Dr. Jyoti Lulla and Dr. Atul Gawande. She also wrote about Drs. Jerina Kapoor, Mukand Acharya, Jaya Desale and Mangala Kumar of "Sukham."
I would like to add to the list Dr. Sunita Puri, who has written an excellent book on the topic (‘That Good Night’. Viking).
I may also mention a book I have written on the topic of acceptance of death (‘Dealing with Doctors, Denial and Death’. Rowman and Littlefield).
I hope that the Indian American community and everyone else, will see the advantages of the acceptance of reality – or Karma.
Remember: Talking about sex will not make you pregnant, and talking about death will not kill you.
Albuquerque, New Mexico