Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Ethics of the Dying

"I still have a lot of guilt over killing my mom."

That's the way Justin puts it.

I tell him, "You didn't kill her, she made that decision. She was dying. You just helped her be comfortable."

He's told me before that sugar coating it does not help.

Meanwhile, Oakley's mom is dying in a whirlwind of secrecy and tradition--people around the dying person always tries to be so strong and they say it is "for [that person]." So there is no crying. I think if no one cried near me when I was dying I'd feel as though they didn't care. On the other hand, when I was in the hospital to avoid death, perhaps if my visitors had cried in front of me I would have felt guilty, I would have felt responsible, I would have felt angry, I would have felt sad, I would have felt like I needed to do something to make them feel better.

No one knows how to let death happen, it seems.

I have always been a proponent of euthanasia and assisted-suicide. I think people should be allowed to die with dignity. I think when life becomes too much of a burden to continue, when there is no "sweetness of life" left, or so little that the torture or pain of being alive outweighs the good moments, it is time to stop the suffering.

But maybe I am wrong--though it is just my opinion. No judgement.

However, now, when I think about Justin's feeling of "guilt for killing my mom" I wonder about the results of euthanasia and assisted suicide or DNRs. Do they hurt the family more than they help the family?

Perhaps the progress of medicine has gone to far. Perhaps it was best when the survival of the fittest wasn't intervened with by plastic and metal and tubes and mixtures and electricity and pumps.

Perhaps it was better when people just died because that's what they were supposed to do, because they'd reached their time.

Perhaps all we ever should have invented were painkillers.

For everyone.

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