Saturday, July 27, 2013

Rambles Through My Mind - Death


It's been a hell of a week, starting with the wake and then the funeral for my Father-by-Marriage, then returning to work with Chickie finally returning from vacation on Wednesday. Today we will join the family after work to celebrate my sister-in-law's 70th birthday. I'm emotionally and physically exhausted and am really looking forward to sleeping in on Sunday morning.

I was reading a short story last night - sweet and poignant. By the end of it, I was in tears. It's very hard to read through tears. I kept reaching for the tissue box, drying my eyes and blowing my nose, then I would read another two paragraphs and repeat the experience. The story, a love story where one partner helps the other die on his own terms at a pre-selected time and place, made me think - hard - about the choices of death and dying.

Sure, there are directives such as Do Not Resuscitate, and we can let our family members know our wishes about how aggressive the medical establishment should be in attempting to save our lives, but these directives and desires are often ignored or found too late. There is also the question of "Why die in a hospital?" There is nothing that recommends a hospital to me as a locale in which I want to spend my final hours. So here's what I would prefer.

I would want to be able to choose my time and place. Ideally I would want to just leave my Last Will and Testament on the table and send a delayed note to a trusted person who would be able to enter my home, retrieve the Will, and start the inheritance ball rolling. I would want to walk into the forest, even better walk into a forest in my beloved mountains but if not, well a forest near a lake or river wouldn't be bad either. I would want to find a perfect place to enjoy the beauties around me, settle down, and allow myself to choose my own time and method of death.

I can hear gasps and whispers. "Suicide! She's talking about suicide!" Trust me in this. I LOVE LIFE AND LIVING MY LIFE TO THE FULLEST EXTENT. This type of decision is not something to be decided on in the spur of the moment. But if I am dying of a terminal ailment such as cancer and I would die in great pain, hooked up to machines and drugs, then yes. I'd rather end it with birdsong and the caress of a breeze than listening to the beep of monitors, being pierced with multitudes of needles, and hearing the click and hum of a respirator.

My nation and its laws generally forbid assisted death (except in Oregon). We have the right to live a life within society, having a good life or one of poverty or mistreatment, but not the right to die. I think that the right to choose the time and method of one's death is a human right and that it can be beautiful, freeing, and a celebration of life and love. So what would you do if you were diagnosed with an aggressive, terminal illness? Would you rather take your decisions into your own hands? Or not? Tough questions for the weekend.

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