Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Physician-Assisted Dying – Part One – An Uplifting Subject?

I know readers who have faced end-of-life situations in their families recently, or will be in the near future. If this topic is too near and dear to your hearts then perhaps you should skip these next few posts, but please return afterward.

To be clear, I’m not there yet – not even close. I still find life eminently worth living. But this may not always be the case, and that’s why I’m addressing this controversial and sobering subject.

Death is not my greatest fear. Life is, or at least a certain type of life. Two examples:

1. The pain and mental anguish associated with a long, drawn out death.
2. Becoming a prisoner in a body that no longer allows me to interact with the world around me in a positive and meaningful way.

I don’t know how to define item 2, but I think I’ll know it if/when I get there.

These are the types of things I worry about. But they wouldn’t be as frightening if I had some say in the matter - if I had some control over the circumstances of my death, should I ever get to the point that I want to exercise such control.

If either of the two situations above were to occur today, I would have no legal recourse to choose when or how to end my suffering. Not only that, but at least in my case, I would have no practical recourse either. I would be in such compromised physical condition that I would be unable to end my life without assistance from others. I don’t have the strength of will that one of my fellow MS bloggers exhibited a couple of years ago when he made the conscious decision to starve himself to death. Nobody should have to resort to that.

In subsequent posts, I’ll present some of the perceived advantages and disadvantages of legalizing physician-assisted suicide. I’m sorry for those of you who visit this blog primarily for its uplifting posts. But frankly, reducing my current anxiety by giving me more control over my end-of-life decisions is an uplifting subject to me.

Click here for Physician-Assisted Dying – Part Two – The Arguments Against Legalization


  1. On March 3, the third anniversary of George's death will occur. He was clear minded, determined and totally comprehended that he had chosen to end his life. As his mother, I honored and loved him enough to know that he had the right to decide how he wanted to live or die. Hospice was called, and he did choose to be totally sedated with morphine which he was until the last breath. Would it have been easier for him and us if he could have taken a drug, legally prescribed to choose the hour of his death? Certainly. There are many ways to end a life. Voluntary withdrawal of food and water is actually not painful. There were a number of books that explained and aided him in how to go about this procedure. In addition, there is an organization, Compassion and Choices that deals with ending life.
    Until one has suffered or watched a loved one suffer unbearably from disease or injury, no one can even begin to understand the choices that person makes. It is, frankly, none of their business. Truth be told, all this hogwash about Palliative Care being able to control pain is just that, hogwash. And, please, leave your moral judgements out of this discussion.
    I do not consider what my son did as suicide. Instead, I believe that he made the choice to decide at what point he was unwilling to suffer for the sake of suffering.And, suffering has many components, not just physical. He had no options left to him. He DECIDED, and that is how it should be. He was in control, not MS.
    I miss him terribly, but watching him suffer was beyond comprehension. Thank you for addressing this topic.

    1. For those of you who haven't figured it out yet, George was the friend and fellow blogger I referred to in the post. This comment is from his mom. Thank you so much for taking the time and emotional energy to respond. I think of George often. He was a brave man, and you, a loving mother.

    2. No matter what happens to myself I intend on being right there when it goes down !

  2. Replies
    1. Oh my, you are just a pup! (But now, of course, I am showing my age.)
      Seriously, EXCELLENT article!

  3. Watched a recent Vice episode that covered some aspects of this issue.

    1. nice, well-balanced story. Thanks for sharing.

  4. i think the idea of assisted end-of-life makes sense. if this were to be my choice, i'd want the council of trusted person to help me make the best decision. and to not put that person in legal peril.

  5. I'm sure George inherited his great strength and resolve from his very amazing mother. A little less judgment and a lot more love and understanding will go a long way when any of us are presented with such an important decision....