What equifinality means to me

The word has been on my mind lately. Is it because of my mother’s recent passing? Equi=equal; finality=the end. Was coined by Bertalanffy in reference to systems theory, which in turn became the foundation of family therapy. Simply put, equifinality means that there are multiple ways to reach the same end (however you define it). What I like about the term is that it discredits the view that there is only one way to do things.

This has been a difficult time for me. First, I had to accept the fact that my mother was mortal. I had barely wrapped my head around that notion when she informed me that she planned to choose the time of her “exit.” Not only did I have to accept the fact that she would die one day, but now I was asked to lend support to the idea that she would know when that event took place. To make matters worse, maman kept asking me what date would be convenient. How do you tell your mother what day you would like her to schedule her own departure? You don’t.

So here we are, five days after the deed. All I can say is this: She went out with a bang, partying until the last minute and leaving life as you would a banquet. This was my mother’s motto:

Je voudrais qu’à cet âge on sortît de la vie ainsi que d’un banquet, remerciant son hôte, et qu’on fît son paquet.    (La Fontaine, Fables, Book 8, Fable 1)

My mother left on her own terms while she was still self-sufficient, mobile, and cognitively sharp. That’s how I remember her. Anything less than that would have devastated her. I respect her decision and admire her will to carry it through. I am also grateful that she lived in a country that enabled her to do so legally.

Dear mom, you chose the path that took you where you wanted to go; others may choose a different route. That’s the beauty of equifinality.

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