Mortal coil shuffle
Blessings on the caregivers in assisted living, long-term
care, and ultimately, the tender refuge of hospice. These
people and the organizations they work for provide a
wonderful service for people who are dying what doctors
call a natural death.
But a natural death is not for everybody.
While it is true some people die peacefully in their sleep or
just drop dead, all too often, a natural death is a painful,
prolonged process involving increasing physical and
psychological deterioration, loss of bodily functions, and
total forfeiture of your personal dignity.
A natural death often involves seeing the faces of your
friends and family wracked with the pain of conflicted
emotions and obligations as they suffer along with you.
A natural death often means spending all
your money, and possibly that of your loved
ones, on medical expenses necessary to keep
you alive as long and as comfortable as
possible until you are sick enough to refuse
life support or have it removed. This is when
hospice can assist in limiting the duration of
And if your sole concern, or the concerns of
your loved ones, is to keep you alive as long
as humanly (or financially) possible by any means
necessary regardless of the cost and agony, then you may
have an unnaturally prolonged natural death.
Finally, if you want to be surrounded by people watching
you as you die, a natural death is for you.
IF, however, the process of a long-term natural death
sounds like hell on earth, there is an alternative: suicide.
Polite, proper people prefer call it by its euphemisms – aid-
in-dying, physician-assisted-death, euthanasia …
Some good-hearted people have introduced legislation in
California that would allow terminally ill patients to beg for
their deaths. This legislation involves a whole lot indignity,
paperwork, and no doubt fees, to petition a "death panel"
to receive the permission and the means put yourself out
of your misery.
Ever notice how many people just skip the paperwork?
A few years ago, The Union ran a piece on a terminally ill
man who simply walked into his garden one afternoon and
shot himself, so as not to mess up the house or distress his
wife. Although she knew he was going do it, he just didn't
tell her when. As much as she loved him, she accepted his
right to make his own decision.
You don't need state-sanctioned permission to kill yourself.
You just need the motivation and the method(s).
And the guts.
It's not easy to kill yourself, either
psychologically or physically. That's
why many people fail at suicide.
They lacked the will and/or the
way. That's why you might need a
physician to give you the peaceful,
unconscious death you want.
Or you could just look up on the
Internet how to off yourself
painlessly and gracefully. Done
right, it could even look "natural," but that often requires
If people who love you help you commit suicide, the trick is
to not let anybody get implicated in your "murder."
Which brings me back to the point:
Not all of us want our loved ones standing around watching
us die. I personally don't want the last, and perhaps most
lasting memory, people have of me is me dying. To me,
dying is a very personal, private thing.
Not all of us want an expensive, lingering, humiliating,
Not all of us want our friends and family agonizing along
with us over how long it's taking us to die.
Not all of us want to spend our grandchildren's college
education for the sake of eking a few more months of low-
Some of us just want to die peacefully and alone in our
own time, for our own reasons, and in our own way.
© Tom Durkin Media
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