Monday, January 09, 2006

Killing Me Softly

I know how they do it: the old patient is suffering in a humanly cruel fashion, and the doctors relieve the pain with an injection, or a higher dosage of sedation, so dear father will not wake up again.
It sounds too good to be true. And that is what it is: too good to be true. For where is the dividing line? Who decides that pain and discomfort have become unbearable? Is it impatient father, who has never been sick in his life, and would like to be done with it? Or the family, who have witnessed this stage of the illness long enough, who are emotionally exhausted and ready to move on to the next scene of the tragedy?
Well, let me be blunt: I think ending a person’s life in this or any other way is murder. I am all for stopping unnecessary treatment, all for palliative medication, that relieves enough of the pain to make the last hours of life bearable. But allowing sedation to induce death is crossing that dividing line. And worse: allowing it by law is making murder legal. That is all there is to it.
For how much does the decision for this “treatment” have to do with the suffering of illness? Is it not in actual fact made out of the fear of death and dying, either on the part of the patient, or that of his physician and family?
Wilfully denying a person his moment of death: thát is cruel in my view. Life should be allowed to run its course, with the good and the bad. Or rather: the good through the bad.
We have become too used to pain relief in any shape or form. We have become spoilt and impatient. We expect no less than instant satisfaction. Thus, we are forgetting that dying is not only pain and misery. There is also great beauty in it. Just as there is in birth, painful as it may be.
So when my time comes, please don’t kill me—softly or otherwise. Allow me to live and die as fully aware as possible!

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