In modern America, personal independence is seen as a primary virtue. The point of parenthood is to raise children to be independent. Addiction is a matter of concern because it limits independence — that’s why we call it a “dependency issue.” We live our lives protecting our independence, which we cede only in exchange for a few greater goods. So it’s not surprising that many of us do not tolerate pain and suffering well, much less the slow march to death that degenerative disease often entails.
The path to death is marked by an increasing lack of independence — we become unable to live life according to our expectations, or to do even the minute daily tasks that we took for granted before. It is particularly troubling to watch a loved one make that march, and if we are honest, it’s often difficult for us to provide the care and support they need. Yet it is important to remember that every human life is marked by a balance of independence and dependence. None of us is ever absolutely free from depending on others.”