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Dignity in Dying

I have been a ‘silent’ supporter for the opportunity to have a choice of death for years, probably because it has always seemed commonsense to me – the last personal act of control when enough becomes enough.

I have, since 2008, become more active in my support for reasons that I shall come on to. I have listened to the arguments against and to me they seem to fall into 5 categories:

  1. It is unfair on Doctors – well let those doctors who feel strongly opt out.
  2. It is legalised murder – this seems a somewhat over the top description, but fair enough for those who are against I guess, I prefer assisted suicide or the right to choose.
  3. That it is just not right to allow life to be taken away – that may be your view, in which case don’t agree to it for yourself, but please don’t impose you view on me or others of a like mind.
  4. In these days of pain killers there is no need to suffer – even if pain free (see below) there may still come a point where a high level of incapacity becomes unacceptable, even it is just from boredom and then enough is enough.
  5. What if I change my mind – if this is a genuine fear then don’t opt in, but I promise if I am incapable of making it known that I have changed my mind, then believe me I haven’t – and yes I really mean that!

It seems to me that that most people who are apposed to the choice of death are really scared that in some way it might be imposed on them. That is fair enough, but if that is your fear do not opt for this choice and I am sure we are talking about an opt in, not an opt out, but again please don’t impose your fear/views on me.

What finally prompted to get more involved was watching my mother die. One of my sisters, who lived much closer to my mother, saw the worst of it, but I saw enough.

My mother having suffered from crippling back pain for many years, was no stranger to enduring pain, in fact she seemed proud of the fact that she could do so, but in late 2007was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. When it began to affect her seriously she was lucky enough to get into one of the best options for palliative care local to her, St Michaels Hospice. None of the family would fault the care that they gave her and she could not have been in a better place, but seeing her deteriorate over the weeks really struck home – to us and much more importantly to her.

While she was mentally alert she coped pretty well, but clearly knew that she was deteriorating and that it was terminal. Before she got too bad, but in increasing pain, she was repeatedly asking for assistance to die and we had to explain that the Hospice could not do that. She was very clear that she wanted assistance to die, she had enjoyed her life, loved her family, but had got to the point where she believed that going on was pointless, painful and she had simply had enough.

When she slipped into unconsciousness, probably with the help of the pain killing drugs, it might have been a relief to all, except, as my sister explained, when they turned her to avoid bed sores; the unconscious(?) moans of pain were intolerable. My mother should not have been forced to suffer beyond what she felt was acceptable and she did not give up lightly.

I want this situation changed before I ever get to that point. You do not have to agree, but please don’t prevent my wishes being carried out, because of your beliefs and fears. Your beliefs and fears are for you to deal with, please don’t force them upon me or others.

If you do agree then please consider supporting Dignity in Dying and help achieve good palliative care for all, but with a choice of death, when enough becomes enough.

Dignity in Dying

 

This page was last modified on October 10, 2012
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