As I enter the so-called golden years of my life I periodically muse over my fate in the last days of my earthly existence. It seems rather tragic that so many of us are faced with a withering debilitating decline in health as we approach death's door. I have entertained the future use of euthanasia as a means to somehow exit gracefully from this world. I have told those around me that I sincerely do not want to end up in a cold sterile hospital bed with tubes & gadgets attached to me. Rather let me be in the comfort of my abode where I can move outside to experience the peace and tranquility of nature's wonder.
Why does our society not let us die on our owns terms? They insist we fight the 'good fight' and squeeze out every last second of existence. Doctors play god and often have no problem interfering with the wishes of the patient. Should death with dignity not override the Oath of Hippocrates? Is there truly quality of life when you're being force fed intravenously due to a loss of appetite as the result of a terminal illness?
Will religion(s) continue to have an unnecessarily large impact on the attitudes society possesses about letting individuals chose their own course for exiting this world? It is confusing that 'people of faith' encourage us to fight on at all cost and not give up while at the same time believing in eternal bliss in an invisible afterlife. Huh?
I've seen many friends and relatives succumb to the ravages of old age and disease over the years. It seems unfair that our last days of existence must be spent dealing with a worn out body and tired mind. In a way I envy the lower order mammals who have no concept of death. They have no mental turmoil or angst about their eventual demise. I guess this is a price we pay for being the highly cognitive beings we are. I don't fear the moment of death itself but rather the process of dying is highly unsavory.
If you care to google it, there is a crime scene picture of Curt Cobain's head after his suicide. Anyone who would leave that for their relatives to see is either pretty selfish or really out of it. An uncle of mine took the shotgun approach after learning he had inoperable cancer, and it was my aunt (his wife) who found him. You can imagine...
I hope to be aware of my own death experience just for the curiosity of it. I truly came to terms with it about the time it I hit forty. I suppose the reality of our own mortality is not “real” enough before then unless we have a near death experience of some kind. Life takes on new meaning once we come to terms with the fact it will end…and all our memories lost like tears in the rain. (enough already lol)
I am always bemused with the Theists attitude towards death. They should rejoice in the fact that they are about to become immortal. Most of them can’t even handle a conversation on the subject. That’s good old cognitive dissonance for you.
I have told my family no to keep me plugged in if it comes to it. I will take a one way trip to Switzerland if one of those horrible diseases gets me while I still have the strength. Doctors don’t save lives, they just prolong them. Anyone for a death bed conversion story?
From Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:
Probably, I’ll black out in a few seconds, and after that it won’t matter.
I completely agree with you. I work with mostly elderly people and some hospice patients so I see the process of decline and death happen all the time. Some people have died very dignified deaths while others have suffered for years and fought to stay alive while growing very bitter about their conditions.
Having worked in a nursing home, I saw many instances of families utilizing medications to keep their loved ones comfortable but it is often really euthanasia. It comes too late for many though. I was so grateful when they gave my father morphine when he was dying of brain cancer. He was no longer accessible to us after that but he was not suffering any more either.
People often ask me how can I work with sickness, dying and death all around me. It is because every second matters. I think that even though we are huge-brained and aware of our mortality, and because of our intellect, we often miss the current moment. Caring for people who are sick dying makes me acutely aware of what it is to be alive. If I were a religious person I would say it is a blessing.
One of the reasons for my starting this thread is the fact that my 83 year old uncle is dying and being fed intravenously. He has terminal bone cancer and has lost his appetite and about 30% of his original body weight. He is tired and ready to go but no one else seems to think he should give up just yet. This is where euthanasia should be an accepted practice and option for those who want to make that decision while they still have clarity of thought.
I used to work as a technician in large hospitals and had to work in areas where radiation/chemotherapy treatment was being conducted for cancer patients. It was very depressing to see those individuals close to death from the treatment itself. I have a lot of respect for the nurses and attendants who work with those afflicted. I don't know if I could do it day in and day out.
It's not openly admitted, but hospice care can be a form of euthanasia. It helps for the person who is dying to have a living will and/or to have openly expressed his or her views on how he wants such things handled. The living often hang on far too long either because of their inability to accept inevitability or because they fear any guilt that might be attached to letting a loved one die without doing everything possible to forestall the end.
I should add that euthanasia is often disguised as pain management.
Society's attitude toward how we face death is beyond outdated and ridiculous. And worst of all profit driven.
I am in my late 30's and have been planning my eventual suicide for a long time now and is my prime motive for wanting to move out of the Southern U.S., I dont want to die in the South.
When I am no longer able to sustain an acceptable quality of life for myself I will exit with what dignity I can at a time and place of my choosing, by my own hand while I am still physically able.
There is such a thing as a living will. Also, in at least one state, Oregon, you have a right to assisted suicide.
My father died recently after about a decade of decline. At last, he fell in his apartment and as is so often the case with the elderly, that was the beginning of the end. Based on his desire, we started looking at assisted living facilities. The one we chose had a skilled nursing facility attached, and the decision we made (with him included in the process) was to put him into skilled nursing to help him meet the minimum self-care requirements of the assisted living facility.
What happened, though, was that he slowly declined rather than improved and finally came down with an infection that eventually sent him to the hospital. There, his decline continued, despite very excellent attention from the staff, and he gradually lost touch with reality.
The doctors told us that his decline was precipitous and probably irreversible. This is when we decided to put him in hospice care at my sister's home. In hospice care, the death of the patient is accepted and the emphasis becomes comfort rather than life-saving efforts.
My dad rejected the idea of "heroic" measures. And so, in the end, on the advice of our hospice nurse, we withheld food and water as his death was inevitable and they would only make his digestive and urinary problems worse.
I was there with my brother and his wife, and my sister to see his last breath. She kept him for another 24 hours so that friends and relatives could view his body.
I really love living in Vermont. We have just had our "Death with Dignity" bill signed into law.
Good for Vermont.
It is a reflection of our troubled society that our imperfect judicial system would see fit to convict a seventy one year old man of 2nd degree murder for his role in helping desperate individuals to self-terminate.
"Am I a criminal? The world knows I'm not a criminal. What are they trying to put me in jail for? You've lost common sense in this society because of religious fanaticism and dogma." -Jack Kevorkian
"When your conscience says law is immoral, don't follow it." -Jack Kevorkian
An elderly man I knew several years ago wanted to spend the time he had in an RV, traveling.
With as much confidence as I've heard from anyone, he told me he had a tank of helium, a plastic bag for his head, and a tube to get the helium into the plastic bag. He said helium tricks the body into remaining calm in a lack of oxygen.
A few years ago, my state's legislature turned down a Death with Dignity Act. In a few weeks I might be a member of a county Commission on the Aging. The Commission members now seem fixated on suicide prevention. I'm going to ask how they feel about alternatives.