Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Death With Dignity

I have reformulated my understanding of being pro-life.  My newest belief is that being pro-life means respecting the quality of life and a persons own choices.

I am so grateful my mom was able to pass with as little suffering as possible.  Days before she died, before her pain was managed, she looked at me and said, with eyes wide, suffering and yellow, "this isn't what it's going to be like for now on is it?"  I made the determination that I wouldn't allow that. I was her advocate for pain relief until the end.

This is a beautiful video of a young woman who has found out she has a very aggressive brain tumor.


3 comments:

fRED said...

Gulp! What to say? I've mulled over my thoughts about this since the day you posted this entry. The issue of suffering with a terminal illness is certainly a difficult one; there are no easy, simple answers.

When I reflect on the issue of suffering and death, especially when a loved one is involved, lots of thoughts flood past me. I'm sure that your decision is strongly influenced by your recent experience with your mother.

My father died from colon cancer 19 years ago. I was with him the day before he died and up to a an hour or so before he breathed his last. I drove hundreds of miles hoping for a miracle.

The day before he died (Good Friday), he sat at the breakfast table with us and we had a normal chat. He died on Holy Saturday (he predicted that he would not last till Easter).

When my beloved cat died after nearly 20 years of companionship, her final moments brought back visions of my Dad's final moments.

Being raised as a RC, my philosophical position is "no euthanasia." However, after an experience with putting down my mother's dog, my choice of position is much more difficult. Not to belittle or equate with human suffering, I saw this dog literally having its insides rot out. When I arrived, she was in such bad shape that she could no longer stand. It was obvious that she was suffering tremendously and that there was no hope. The next day we took her to vet to put her down. The process happened so quickly and without struggle and in seemingly peace that I was shaken.

I was faced with thoughts of guilt that we had let her suffer so long when such a peaceful alternative was available. I was then filled with confusion about such an application in regard to human suffering during a terminal illness. The choice seemed obvious on the surface and yet something troubled me but I could not quite put my finger on it.

The Terri Schiavo case added some clarity to my thoughts because there seemed to be a financial motive to "end her suffering." After working in the consulting industry for 10 years, I have been exposed to so much greed, etc. that I have strong doubts that our society is capable of institutionalizing euthanasia in a moral and ethical way.

At this point, I believe that despite any good intentions, that the strong drive for profit coupled with greed would quickly overwhelm any aspect of compassion and respect intended. I have seen such a path too many times in too many situation.

Another significant influencing aspect for this issue is presence of Hedonism in our society. This strongly affects how people perceive "quality of life." It seems Brittany is determined to ENJOY the finer things in life until her body is no longer able to deal with pain. At that point, she may decide to die, if she feels like it. Many people would probably Love to life that Brittany is determined to live in her remaining time. The whole thing almost feels like a bizarre Monty Python skit or something from The Onion.

It is too bad that we have to die. I don't understand that but it is not a debatable question.

There is so much more that I could write but it would still not resolve anything. In the end, life is precious and we do well to guard it with vigor and conviction.

AJL said...

I agree. It's tough. But, I believe we must have freedom. If we are constantly afraid of the slippery slope and we want to guard everyone from everything, we eventually put people in prisons we would never want to live. I think it is the challenge of life to find the balance. As a strong christian I lived for years choosing to err on the side of good and conservative. I would not ever allow myself to be "tempted" with certain evils, to the point that I secluded myself from the real world and reality. It's tough. We don't want to jump off a cliff with everyone else, but we don't want to stick our head in the sand also. The challenge is to live and choose and think.

fRED said...

She's gone [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVUOtH8feoI]

What a way to end it all [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VU5XxTa-3uw]

So sad.