There has been a great deal written about euthanasia; the dying process, survivors, and the law. Society has made tremendous progress with more states and countries passing laws that give individuals the right to decide when to die. When I was a teenager I saw a film titled Soylent Green (1973), and although the premise was disgusting (humans turned into food), it had a profound affect on me. In the film, when it was time for people to die, they were placed horizontally on a comfortable bed where filmed images of nature played all around them and soothing music could be heard in the background. I believe they were given a pill and soon after, they would gently fall asleep and die peacefully.
I wondered why this was not an option for all of us at that time and I continue to feel strongly that we all have a right to choose when and how we wish to die. Strictly my opinion and you certainly do not have to agree. Again, it’s about the freedom to choose.
Euthanasia is the termination of a very sick person’s life in order to relieve them of their suffering. A person who undergoes euthanasia usually has an incurable condition. But there are other instances where some people want their life to be ended.
I have twice in my life been asked to assist individuals in dying. On both occasions I found a way to help without actually doing the deed. Hospice is a true gift and certainly an option when an individual is nearing the end of life. If you’ve never been on morphine, trust me, the feeling of euphoria is ever present. It provides a way to see death through peacefully. However, the ability to walk, drive, or travel by boat or plane to a place of your choosing, where you can be assisted in choosing precisely when your life should end, is hopefully becoming a reality in more places. There are now eight states in the United States where assisted suicide is legal; Oregon was as early adopter and most recently the state of Maine made it legal. It’s sort of like the legalization of marijuana, slow and steady.
There are also many countries that have legalized assisted suicide: Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland, to name a few. I have started to think about where I would want to go if I knew that I had only a short time left and that I might be a burden to those who love; a game changer for me. I do not want anyone to ever have to change my diaper. I know there are a few people in my life who would tell me that they would gladly do it; however, whether they would do it or not is irrelevant — if I can help it, it’s not happening. Because I have not travelled everywhere in the world (so much of the world to see while I am healthy), at this point I would probably travel to Switzerland for assistance. The natural beauty of the country and the gentleness of the people, would make it a more beautiful experience for me. And yes, I do see the end of one’s life as a beautiful thing. Not a tragic or untimely death; I mean the point at which one becomes at peace with the knowledge that death is inevitable and part of the life cycle.
So why does this topic make so many people uncomfortable? If someone you love is dying and they want to discuss assisted suicide with you, you could show them how much you truly care for them by listening and being open to this option. Here I go “shoulding” on you. Obviously, if you can’t handle the topic, you should not engage. On the other hand, attempting to talk someone out of it seems selfish to me.
I’ve already planted a couple of seeds with people I am close with, just in case it ever comes to this. I will seek support from those I know will be there for me. I would probably not share it with those I believe would judge me or try to talk me out of it.
4 thoughts on “Dying With Dignity”
While it can be a depressing subject, it is a necessary one when you reach a certain age before you get too sick.
There is another subject that also needs to be discussed at least in the States. All of us should draft a Power of Attorney for Medical Reasons if we do not want to be hooked up to machines in order to prolong life unnecessarily. Unless you have such a document, even if you’re married, your loved ones cannot make decisions, if you are incapable of expressing your wishes. You should make sure the person, or persons, you name in your Power of Attorney, will follow your wishes. You should give a copy to your family doctor and, of course, one to each person you name in the document. I know that my siblings are unable to deal with death in a natural way. They think that “while there’s life, there’s hope.” I disagree and have named friends who will respect my wishes.
I enjoy reading your blog. Thanks
I am 100% in agreement. I have all of those documents with my executor and on file. Mostly, for exactly the reason you described. Thank you.
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I have a DNR and my Cousin Paul, whom I live with, knows that I do not want to be kept alive by machines. I believe that when it’s your time, you shouldn’t fight it. When God calls you, you go. As for assisted suicide, I believe in that as well. With all the the pain meds I have in the house, I would not need assistance if I felt i’d had enough. People should have the right to choose how, when and where they want to die (peacefully and with dignity). Thank you Chris for bringing up this topic. I love you and hope you are doing well in Faro xoxoxoxo
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I know you have a great deal of pain everyday and trust you will know when it is your time to say goodbye. I love you.