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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Your Dying Spouse 33 - The Suicide Option

We're linked to Messy Marriage's Wedded Wednesday...please drop by and see some other marriage blogs, by some really thoughtful people!

This is a post I've tried to put off writing, because it's a subject I deeply loathe...assisted suicide. As you undoubtedly know it's legal in several states (including mine), and made the news late in 2014 with the Youtube coverage of the decision of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, who had terminal brain cancer, to kill herself. (I wrote about this at the time on my other blog, Starting The Day With Grace...please click here if you're interested.)

It's hard to be objective, but I'm going to try, since some of you reading this may come up against this issue...your spouse may one day simply have had enough, and be tempted to reach for the hemlock.

First, some background - the patient has to have a diagnosis that's terminal within six months, and has to have two doctor visits, at least fifteen days apart, before the prescription for the suicide "cocktail" of drugs is issued. The waiting period is to ensure that depression isn't driving the decision, though anyone with a terminal diagnosis is bound to be depressed.

Once the prescription's issued, it can be filled, and the fatal dose taken at leisure.

The proponents of this protocol say that it's a chance for a dignified farewell, that one drifts off to sleep with friends and family gathered around. That it's a choice, the last earthly act of self-control.

Unfortunately, for Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and Sikhs (among others), it's also a sin. Kind of a bad one; the one they say lands you in hell. Forever, and they don't even let you out on weekends.

I have two problems with the scenario...first, making family and friends watch you die as a deliberate act is a bit heartless. I've seen people die; it's never pretty. The body does not want to give up, and you'll never see this described on the "suicide is painless" websites. It's something I would not want to see, I would not want my wife to see, and I would rather that you, dear reader, never see it either.

My second issue is that suicide removes the possibility of the good that can still be done. A kind, encouraging word from the suburbs of Cancer Hell can mean a lot to someone who just had the nightmare doctor visit.

The terminally ill still have a lot to give, and they should not be thrown away...by society, or by themselves.

That line really says it all...I'm rather proud of it, so I'll stop here.

20 comments:

  1. Your last line does say it all, and I like it.

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    1. Thanks, Marie! I always value your thoughts...your writing has a warm and wise handle on faith, and I always learn from you.

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  2. I'm with Marie.

    Thanks for staying with us, man. Your sharings are making a difference ... this, your legacy!

    He giveth more grace, doesn't He ...

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    1. Linda, thank you! And yes, He's so busy pouring buckets of grace over my head that I sometimes wonder how He gets anything else done. I've been SO blessed!

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  3. This right here is why assisted suicide is not okay-The terminally ill still have a lot to give, and they should not be thrown away...by society, or by themselves. Thank you for speaking out and for saying what so many of us hold in our heart. Blessings to you!

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  4. And suicide dismisses the promise of healing. A miracle from God. I'd want to wait around with the hope of being a miracle! :)

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    1. That's very true! It is what I am waiting for.

      To be fair, though, there are some cases in which it's understandable, but very few. The people who were trapped in the World Trade Center as the fires came closer, and jumped...I understand that. I've been on fire, and it's no way to go.

      Also, there are situations where you have to save the last bullet for yourself. Been there, and didn't have to DO that, but it would sure beat being skinned alive, which was one of the kinder things the bad guys did.

      I hate to give those examples, because it seems to leave the door open to "well, in that case, what about THIS..?" But on closer examination, it doesn't, not really. In the cases cited, death is inevitable within a very few minutes, and its manner and gravity can't be hidden. It's the choice of the lesser of two immediate evils, and immediate is the operative word.

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  5. Only you, going through a terminal diagnosis, can truly speak to this issue, Andrew. And I agree wholeheartedly. There is SOOOO much that you've done in these days of dying that will live on and forever benefit your readers. I know that it will bring healing and insight to my friend I mentioned to you the other day. He and his wife need to scour your blog for all the treasures you've given us each week and day. Prayers are being lifted up for you, Andrew! Stay strong and keep on giving!

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    1. Beth, thank you so much for this...I really needed to read it, right now, because this has been a dreadful day.

      Your kindness, and your prayers have lifted my spirits more times than you could imagine. I thank God for your friendship.

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  6. As we waited out my father's lingering death, I remember praying, "why don't you just take him, Lord?" But I realized as the months went by that my father's role in my life may have been complete, but it was not in the lives of other members of our family. Simply by staying alive another five months, another family member was able to resolve differences that had lingered for many years.

    Even by just lying and not speaking, my father was able to accomplish something very meaningful in the lives of several in my family.

    When my father did die, there was surprise and genuine grief. Healing had taken place.

    Hang in there, and blessings.

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    1. When I read your comment, the first thing that came to mind, Michelle, were Jesus' words..."It is finished."

      We all have a story arc, and we're meant to see it to the end...to the pot of gold at the end of that metaphorical rainbow, perhaps? But it becomes usable gold only in the refiners' fire?

      What do you think?

      Thanks for being here...I will hang on as long as I can. Hard day today, but I'm still typing.

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  7. I could say that for me...if put in that situation...suicide would not be an option; but...I have NOT been put in that situation and had to make that choice. I agree that the terminally ill still has a lot to give - through prayers, writing, commenting and supporting others' blog, acknowledging what their care-giver is doing/has done for them...and so much more...

    Thank you for "biting the bullet" (sorry for that analogy) and addressing this issue!

    As always, prayers for you and Barbara...keep praying; keep looking up; and keep leaning on him for strength and comfort!

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    1. I could never condemn someone for making the choice. For me, it's hard right now, but it could be infinitely worse.

      And as I mentioned in my reply to Shelli Littleton's comment above, saving the last bullet for myself is something I have done, and under the same circumstances would do again.

      It isn't black and white, by any means, and I hope never to see the grey close in around me so that the thought becomes palatable.

      Thank you for being here, Barbara, and thank you for the prayers.

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  8. I really appreciate this post, Andrew. I am so, so glad that assisted suicide is NOT an option for you. God's not done - only He gets the final word.

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    1. Indeed He does...He's the one who gets to say, It Is Finished...not I!

      Thank you for being here today, Aimee.

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  9. I appreciate your courage and grace. God is not finished and He is amplifying your voice.

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    1. Norma, thank you so much...I do believe He's keeping me going for a purpose, because my doc thinks I'm way past my sell-by date.

      And I do my best to listen to His voice (God's, not the doc's) and write what He says. He's a pretty picky editor, sometimes, too.

      Thank you for being here!

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