Sunday, June 20, 2010

Death and euthanasia

My dad died on Saturday at 8:20 am. His family attended his passing. He took his last breath while a loving nurse named Mary held his hand, kissed his forehead, and told him that everything would be ok. DadMy mother, exhausted after a week long vigil, held his hand while she slept. We woke her as he died.

I felt a sense of relief in his death that I had not anticipated, and guilt too. Why was I relived? I struggled with the question for the next hour. My emotions got the better of me. I could not talk. I could barely make eye contact with those around me. I grieved while struggling with my demons, but it felt good. It felt right.

My dad had actually died about two day before. At least his mind had died as his body dealt with the business of shutting down. We watched every minute of it. I’m happy we were there for him. I’m happy he did not die alone. But I have to wonder, what is the point of a lingering death? Why is it impermissible to help people die once they’ve reached the point of no return? Why is euthanasia considered unethical and against the law?

There was a point when the doctors said the end was near. They actually told us the process of dying had started. They gave us a paper that told us what to expect. The stages of death are predicable. And once they start, you know it. Having experienced the process, I think there is a point where giving an overdose of Nurse Marymorphine is the humane thing to do. It’s against the law, but it’s against the law at least partially for religious reasons. I don’t think that’s right. I think I’ve found another cause to fight for.

And Mary – you have my gratitude and thanks. I stand in awe of your love and kindness. The world is a better place for your selfless acts of love.

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