“Thinking Things Over”
A handful of states in the U. S. have changed their laws regarding euthanasia. They may vary slightly in the details, but all allow an individual to decide on the date of their death due to a deteriorating, progressive disease for which there is no cure. Why are there only a few states and not all states?
Every state allows for the euthanasia of our pets. Why is it that we are more compassionate toward the life of our pets than our family members, friends, and ourselves?
Hospices have flourished over the last few decades to attempt to fill the gap between life and death in a more humane way, but still fall short of “assisted suicide.” The hospice philosophy is to provide comfort and supportive care while awaiting the eventuality we all face—our death.
Who better than we deserve to be in control of that final chapter in our lives?
Many “churches” claim that taking of our own life is a sin and punishable by the soul going to hell. That is a pretty scary proposition and exerts a great deal of control over our society. The Christian base in our society has led the charge for the philosophy and laws in our country that ban suicide and assisted suicide. Their argument is based on the premise that God is in control of the length of life, and anyone who commits suicide is “playing God” or is insane.
One could be cynical about it and believe that neither the Church nor the government want to lose the income from people if they choose their right to death. They generally strongly support the “Right to Life,” but not the “Right to Death.”
I will allow that, indeed, some who take their own life could be considered to be insane at the time due to passion, influence of a religion, or a radical movement, i.e. suicide bombers. Others may be considered insane at the time of their decision due to depression over their life situation. They may feel it is unbearable in their current mental status and unable to cope with their life journey, i.e. gay teens and abused individuals. However, those who are terminally ill, in severe physical pain, and suffering from significantly reduced quality of life, undergo a thoughtfully considered decision toward self- determination. This usually occurs over a period of time and after careful consideration and discussions with loved ones and friends.
The latter is the situation a close friend of mine is dealing with today. He has several medical conditions which cause severe pain every day, reduced mental clarity, and loss of physical strength and stamina. Due to those conditions, he was forced to retire early from his passion–his profession.
My friend began discussing and considering self-determination several years ago as he saw his condition deteriorating. I have discussed this issue with him several times over the years since he first mentioned his consideration of self-determination. He has held discussions with family members. He is taking full control and ownership of his intentions with long and careful thought.
I do not see him as insane as he has carefully gone through this thought process. I also do not believe that anyone should die alone, so I have offered to be on the telephone with him should/when he makes his final decision to act on his self-determination. I received that call several days ago. He asked if I were still willing to be on the telephone with him. He has decided that he plans to act on his own behalf sometime in the next few months, pending a medical decision by one of his physicians. That is a call which I do not look forward to receiving; however, I love my friend enough to be there to support him, so that he does not die alone.