If you had an incurable disease, with no hope, would you choose to get help to end your own life?
In many countries, assisted suicide is illegal. Switzerland is not one of them. It runs a clinic where those who have chosen to do so, may end their own life. Sir Terry Pratchett, author extraordinaire has Alzheimer and believes that assisted suicide is a dignified way to end it.
Watching something like that raises the same questions in my head. What if I had a debilitating disease that would slowly rub me of my ability to move, to talk, to communicate. Would I want to end my days like that or would it be better to pick my own time and place? How would that affect my family, my loved ones? Should I fight until the bitter end, or go gracefully? Would it be easier on my family to go when I was ready rather than have them watch me suffer and go downhill until I was as useful as a sofa and just as lumpy?
I appreciate that many religions forbid taking ones own life, and in most cases, I do agree. Having suffered from depression and being incredibly low, I know that sometimes doing something foolish can look awfully attractive, but with care, love, help and yes, drugs, things improve to the point where you wonder what exactly were you thinking?
If in Canada you can choose to have a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) when taken into hospital, meaning if your stop breathing, the doctors and nurses cannot help you. In a way, that is choosing your own place and time. So if you can choose a DNR, why can you not choose to have help to finish your life in peace and with dignity.
I have been incredibly lucky in my life, I have lost very few people who were close to me. Perhaps it is a side effect of being anti social, perhaps not.
I have two cats, Domi and Casey. I like Casey but he is a little too annoying at time. Domi, fat, furry, loving Domi, is my best friend, costs us lots of money every year in vets bills and sadly is getting older. I will soon have to face the choice of keeping Domi alive but him suffering more and more, or having him put to sleep before that happens. Without a doubt, it will be the hardest decision I will have ever made. Moving to Canada after two dates to marry the woman I love will seem like child’s play compared to this.
I have lost pets before, any kid who has pets will eventually lose them, unless they are a tortoise. This will be a choice though. And as much as I love Domi, as much as I enjoy him sitting next to me when we watch TV, him talking when we talk to him, the way he cuddles into me in bed, I would be wrong to keep him suffering simply because I would be unable to let him go.
I wish I wouldn’t have to face this situation but I know that in the next few years, my best friend will be dead, my choice will be how long does he suffer.
How does this impact my life? I am, as far as I know, not dying anymore than anyone else is. I am aging rapidly but apparently that is what happens once over the age of 40. I have no asked my wife her opinions on this but I tend to believe that she would be of the same mind. Quality of life means just that, and when the quality has dropped to the point where life no longer has any, each and everyone of us should be able to choose to die. I don’t mean someone who decides that life is mean to them and they no longer can go on, rather those who medically are suffering and doctors agree that there will not be any improvement.
There will always be people who are against this the same way that people are against the death penalty or abortion, but surely the person involved should be allowed to be the one to make the decision? After all, they are the ones suffering.
Life should be dignified. Life should be something to celebrate. Life isn’t a game where the aim is to see how long you can hold on, gasping on an oxygen mask, unable to move, talk, communicate. That isn’t winning. You should make the most of every single moment in your life and once you are at the point where you can no longer make the most of it, you need to decide for yourself what to do.
If I get to the point where I am losing my abilities and may faculties, I hope that I can have the courage to choose my own departure, listening to the music I want to listen to, surrounded by the people I love, and once I am gone, I hope everyone parties and celebrates my life and doesn’t waste their own lives grieving. I don’t want to die, I just don’t want to have to live beyond the time I am any use to anyone.
As I have mentioned, this is sorely my opinion and I do appreciate that different people will have different opinions on this. I am just stating mine, not pushing mine onto yours.
- Is Assisted Suicide Morally and Ethically Wrong? [Daniel Roberts] (ecademy.com)
- BBC to screen assisted suicide (mirror.co.uk)
- “Will Terry Pratchett Commit to Assisted Suicide” and related posts (alzheimersreadingroom.com)
- Terry Pratchett initiates assisted suicide process (boingboing.net)
- Sir Terry Pratchett begins process that could lead to assisted suicide (telegraph.co.uk)