End of a long life. Some reflections.

Watching his mother on her final days of her life, DYA SINGH reflects on the end of this human life, about euthanasia and how much do we 'play God' these days especially in western countries

By Dya Singh | OPINION

End of a long life. Some reflections. Happy Festive season!

Happy festive season to all readers of Asia Samachar. The editorial team had asked me to write a special note for this very auspicious period – Christmas, and New Year and most importantly for us Sikhs the Shahidhis of Sahibjadays. I leave you with some very sobering thoughts but thoughts which might probably help you to reflect on your own individual lives, as I am doing… about the year that passed and some resolutions for 2019.

I am sitting beside my venerable mother, Bebe’s death bed in palliative care, in a hospital in Adelaide, South Australia. It is Christmas Day (2018), or for us Sikhs the day between the shahidhis of the younger Sahibjadays and the older Sahibjadays. She is about 105 years old.

Bebe is in a morphine induced coma. She is not eating nor drinking. She became very agitated two days ago and was not able to communicate to us as to what was wrong. So naturally the specialists have put her on morphine.

We brothers have kept a constant vigil by her bed for almost a week since we realised that she was too weak to take any kind of care of herself.

SEE ALSO: BEBAY JI of BASSIAN: The life of a role model Sikh mother 

We three brothers have experienced the passing of three elders – our Nana Ji (old age), our venerable father Giani Harchand Singh Ji (enlarged heart) and our only sister (cancer).

Our Nana Ji passed away peacefully at the age of 110 in virtually the arms of our Bebe. So did Bapu Ji. Bebe tells us that Bapu Ji put a ‘borki’ of roti with saag into his mouth, but lay back and died without eating it. He was about 79. Our sister was morphined as she was in pain and passed away peacefully in Bai Ji’s presence, aged just over 80.

We were reflecting about the end of this human life, about euthanasia, and truly, how much do we ‘play God’ these days especially in western countries.

A ‘religious’ Sikh would say that we humans should not in any way meddle with the ‘bhana’ of Waheguru. Accept His Hukm without question.

With Nana Ji and Bapu Ji, everyone followed the ‘letter of the Law’ (Hukm), so to speak. Natural deaths as we presume they were ordained. Our sister was in great pain, stricken with cancer. But even though morphined, she was still conscious and we were all able to say our ‘good byes’.

Harminder Kaur: Wife of Giani Harchand Singh Bassian – Photo: Supplied

Now I come to the present moment. Till three days ago, Bebe was able to still recognise close ones and even force a smile and bless us all. Today, there is no physical sign of any awareness, just laboured breathing. She has not had any food or drink for three days and for all intents and purposes she will pass away … of natural causes, supposedly, of old age.

We were discussing this with the geriatrician and how different races react at this time. Generally, the Italians and Greeks, for example, will insist that the elder be put on a life support system to prolong the life. Generally, western and northern European races would want the life to end quickly, of natural causes of course, because to the ‘religious’, the word euthanasia is a bad word! The liberals or basic non-believers want euthanasia to be made law. In most western countries euthanasia is still illegal. Man has no right to take ones life. That would be playing God! And fiery debates and litigation takes place against those who advocate euthanasia.

The question is, how much are we already playing God? Is morphine already not cheating God of the pain one must supposedly suffer? And does morphine not induce a quicker death to a supposedly natural death?

We have Sukhmani Sahib paath and Nitnem banis playing most of the time, thanks to recordings (!!!). The overly religious would say that we should be sitting by her and actually ‘doing’ the paath, notwithstanding the fact that she is very hard of hearing and at present she appears oblivious to whatever is happening to and around her.

Just moral, religious and spiritual questions as we place ourselves in the hands of the medical experts… and God?

Meanwhile Bebe’s mouth is a little open. She has just been given a bed bath. She is changed. Her mouth has been swabbed with mint liquid. Her breathing gets slower and there really is no expression on her face.

Yet, if you move close to her, somewhere deep down, I can hear …

Waheguru, Waheguru, Waheguru, Waheguru, Waheguru……….. .

Any thoughts or comments are welcomed and shall be published.

[POSTSCRIPT: Bebe Ji was still alive at the time of writing. She passed away peacefully just before midnight on Christmas Day. Harminder Kaur w/o Giani Harchand Singh Bassian. Village Dhandra. Ghot – Grewal, 1914-2018]

The Bhog and Antam Ardaas will be on Saturday, 12 January, 2019 starting 10am at Gurdwara Sahib Glen Osmand, 10 Mount Barker Road, South Australia]



BEBAY JI of BASSIAN: The life of a role model Sikh mother (Asia Samachar, 26 Dec 2018)

In search of my ‘ethnicity’ (Asia Samachar, 11 Dec 2018)


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  1. My mother has passed. Details of her funeral…

    Cremation: 8 January 2019 (Tuesday) at 2.30pm at Florey Chapel, Centennial Park Crematorium, 760, Goodwood Road, Pasedena, SA 5042 (Followed by cha-pani at Adelaide Gurdwara Sahib, 10 Mt. Barker Road, Glen Osmond, SA 5064)

    Paath Bhog and Antim Ardaas: 12 January 2019 (Saturday) at (Adelaide Gurdwara Sahib, Glen Osmond. The Bhog shall be completed first from 10am. Followed by kirtan by Ragi Dya Singh Ji with Patti Bibian dha Jatha from Taran Taaran.


    Waheguru Ji bless her soul and keep her in contentment always ..

  3. In end of life care,giving morphine for pain,restlessness,anxiety or breathing difficulty is similar to feeding water to a man who is suffering from fatal injuries in the battle-field.Death is inevitable,but one standing next to him/her must do what is compassionate.That is also demanded by God.

    Yes morphine given in doses intended to treat and alleviate suffering,may hasten death,as a by-effect.It is like the mysterious small rash in an infection,that is concurrently treated with antibiotics.Was the rash an immune reaction of your body to the infection?was it an antibiotic allergy?reaction to the paracetamol?a superimposed infection?Very often you will never know,and it wouldnt matter if the patient recovers and the rash disappears.God does say,your time here is preordained,not one breath more,not one less.Hence i believe in doing what is ethically my job,and i have faith that He is doing his end.

    Morphine is not cheating God or death.Illness maybe destined,suffering is a choice.Morphine in end of life care,stands on a completely different pole from what happens in Euthanasia.Euthanasia is administration of a drug,in a lethal dose,intended to kill.It goes against the Hippocratic Oath.

    I dont endorse euthanasia,but who am i to say what is right or wrong.If we can watch silently,in the comforts of our homes, the killing of women and children,infanticide,genocide and law that allows one to be hung to death,then i suppose i can stand next to my brother,administering a lethal drug into a body that has endured excruciating pain and suffering,a body that begs through its every cell for release and for peace.Yes i suppose i can stand next to him silently,in prayer.