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Right to death. March 22, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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The news here in our part of Pennsylvania has been dominated lately by an 80-something man who went to a hospice where his terminally ill wife of 68 years, in unbearable and unrelievable agony, was being kept alive against her will and against all human decency. Her loving husband killed her with a handgun, and then killed himself.

I applaud his act of mercy while reviling modern medicine’s insistence on maintaining human life at all costs, and that the cost in this case was his own life. We would never let a dog suffer if we could instantly and painlessly put them out of their own misery, yet we allow human beings, our own kind, to suffer endless agonies without even offering them the choice to end their suffering. Shame, shame on us! How dare we inflict such agony on our own kind?!

It’s one thing if someone chooses to try to hang on no matter what. That choice should be respected. But for those who would like to be released once pain becomes unbearable, we should offer them the dignity of a swift, painless death. The alternative is torture, and I have seen its effects, seen brilliant, marvelous people reduced to begging that some officious nurse please not try to force them to choke down ice cream when they were dying. I have been scarred terribly by the witnessing of this, and yet my own suffering was nothing compared to the suffering of the one who was dying but was being kept alive, against her will, against her humanity, against her dignity.

I will never lose the sense of helplessness in this case until I die. I will never stop wishing that the nurse who forced my mother, pleading desperately to be left alone, to choke down ice cream, and that the nurse who turned down the morphine pump so my mother would be forced to continue to live in agony, will be treated to the same “mercy” when their own time comes.

God curse them, for anyone who truly believes in God and the hereafter would not attempt to maintain them in their suffering but to hasten them on to Heaven. And those who do not believe should surely profess compassion and give them relief from their suffering. May their misguided, horrifying, Inquisition-like behavior be stopped! Please stop torturing our elders; let them choose for themselves a merciful, painless death as we choose it for our animals. No one should choose it for them, it should be their choice alone, so that no abuses can happen. But they should not be denied, and we should not in our turn be denied, the option of a dignified, painless death.



1. wg - March 22, 2013


2. Daphne - March 23, 2013

I remember going through something similar with my grandmother. Not being forced to eat, since she couldn’t eat on her own and was fed through a tube. But she listed herself as DNR and the doctors wouldn’t let her die even though she had repeated heart attacks. It took my mother and my uncles flying to in at the same time and talking with the doctors to finally let her die. Our state in November had a vote on the right to die issue (for those terminally ill), but even though Massachusetts is very liberal it was voted down.

I’m so sorry, Daphne! Let’s hope by the time our time comes there will be more merciful alternatives.

3. gail - March 23, 2013

Heartbreaking. When my mother made the decision to discontinue all life prolonging meds and simply pass away quietly, they sent the psychiatrist. He tried to talk her out of her decision, he had no idea how strong she was…We were with her a few days later when she died.

Ah, Gail, I’m so sorry. Our health-care system has been so warped by legal infringements that people no longer are allowed to choose death with dignity, before their pain becomes unbearable and makes them less than themselves, despite their best efforts to be brave. I think this will be viewed by future civilizations as one of the great failings of ours.

4. William - March 23, 2013

Even though I like most everyone else are not familiar with the situation, the man didn’t have to murder. There is something called hospice and in the medical field there is patient rights.

People need to understand patient rights and see the effect of lawsuits. Because of patient rights, you can refuse treatment. The majority of cases concerning those terminally ill reflect the wishes of the patient and/or family. We place blame on the medical field when the reality reflects otherwise.

DNR is an interesting situation. This is where our happiness towards lawsuits makes DNR a slippery slope. Again, I look at the patient and family when concerning this. Another part of this is when does this apply? Do we enact this when there is an allergic bee sting? There are heart attacks that are not necessarily candidates for DNR. What do you do?

There is hospice. I am familiar with this and recommend it to those terminally ill. There are social workers at hospitals available to assist you. I believe the vast majority of people do not understand this or are unaware of it.

Many of us experience or will experience this topic. I have a relative with MS, and there is the issue of a feeding tube. The relative has made their wishes known. We as a family are aware of it and will abide by the wishes of our beloved family member (I hope). If we educate ourselves and family members, we may be able to relieve the suffering for all of us.

Thanks for your comments, William. I think the core of this issue lies in what the dying person wants. If they want to live, every effort should be made to keep them alive for as long as possible. If they want to be allowed to die, they should be allowed to do so with dignity before their agony makes dignity impossible. Before unbearable pain sets in, they can still enjoy their lives and their families. But once unbearable pain makes such enjoyment impossible, surely allowing them to join their beloved dead, those whom they adored and have gone before, is the kindest option, assuming, always assuming, that is what they themselves would choose.

wg - March 24, 2013

I thought the woman was in hospice…

Yes, she was in hospice. I’m sure the staff there was very kind, but they were unable to do anything legal to lessen her agony, and her husband couldn’t bear to see her suffering like that. It’s a national disgrace that hospices aren’t allowed to use anything and everything to relieve pain, no matter how addictive. Who cares if someone who’d dying becomes an opium addict, for example, if it means that they will die in comparative peace?

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