Tuesday, April 30, 2013

getting a little help to ease the way out

Few topics are as controversial as assisted suicide. It's currently illegal in Canada but recently, a Canadian woman with an irreversible debilitating illness travelled to Switzerland, where the group Dignitas provides assistance with suicide, legally.

I think most of us have contemplated our own deaths. When you live with metastatic cancer, it's impossible not to do so. I'm hoping that moment for me is in the distant future, but I find the prospect of a long, lingering death from cancer to be terrifying. However, is it more terrifying than the prospect of death itself?

I differentiate that from euthanasia because I think the term I use clarifies the willing and conscious participation of the person facing death. Am I kidding myself that this is a distinction that can be maintained? 

What would you want to do when the end comes? 

I'm certain that I believe assisted suicide should be legal. I don't know what I would do, if faced with a choice.


Lene Andersen said...

I remember once reading an article about Oregon's assisted suicide program. Not too many people sign up for it, but some do. However, very few actually end up using it. It seems that for that program, as well as the one in the Netherlands, having the option for control about how you go is the important thing.

I wholeheartedly agree that assisted suicide should be legal, but obviously with all sorts of processes in place to ensure that it's used the way it's intended.

Would I use such a program? I don't know. I have been in a place where a planned exit seemed like a reasonable choice, but I never took it. I think for me, the important thing would be to know that I could get help if/when I was ready.

Nat said...

I agree that having the option for control is the way to go... there was a spectacular heart wrenching piece about it the Globe last year (I think.)

I suppose I like the idea of having the option, whether I would actually use it, I'm not sure.

Anonymous said...

i've just gone through my mom's and my FIL's deaths. Both times hospice was involved and really they hasten death if the person is in pain by knocking them out with a morphine so high and pain killers that breathing and heart function slowly stops. So I think at least in the US it is a form of legal suicide. I was grateful for this both times.

laurie said...

Thanks to you all for sharing - especially your personal experiences.

elesha said...

I'm fighting for every breath on ths earth.

laurie said...

Elesha, I'm fighting too. I'm not suggesting that anyone give up on that (although I do know it can be a slippery slope). The things I fear are when death is imminent but agonizingly slow and needlessly painful.