Dying to die?

28/02/10 | Posted by Poppy

I blogged back in December about my father in law who is very ill. Thanks to a wonderful care home he is still with us, but all the debates about euthanasia in the news recently have raised really important questions for us. What do you do when someone says they have had enough and don't want to go on?

image
 Fragility

At the moment the law says that if someone ends a life then it is murder. If the law changes then a comment about not wanting to go on could lead to an early funeral following a lethal injection.

If I understand the current situation right, mitigating circumstances are taken into account in cases where it is clear that the ending of a life was motivated by compassion and a desire to end suffering. The police will still get involved. It could lead to a court case and perhaps prison for the relative who thought they were doing the right thing.

Until recently it seemed as if I understood the pros and cons of the arguments and thought that elective euthanasia was a good idea in some circumstances. Having a relative who is very ill has made me see this issue in a very different light.

Sometimes my father in law is very tired. He says he has had enough and says that he doesn’t want to go on. He hasn’t said it outright that he wants to die, but he has never been one for direct statements! But these low moments do not last for long and the next time we see him he is usually perkier and able to hold short conversations. I worry that if there was a change to the law then those low tired moments could lead to irreversible action. I can well imagine that my father in law, who is an honourable man, might want to take make his end quick to save the family worry. And then there is the issue of money. He knows that the nursing home fees are eating into his and his wife’s savings and that when he is gone there is no money left for her. If there was a way to leave her better provided for then he might well take it. But we would all much rather that he stays with us for a few weeks more rather than keep the money in the bank.

One of the ten commandments is ‘thou shalt not kill’ and I saw a programme on the BBC with Ann Widdicombe a few weeks ago. It made me think that there will of course be exceptions to every rule and there are people who are far worse off than my father in law who will want to test the law, but all the emotional stresses around having an ill relative make me think that keeping the law as it is, and testing each case on its merits is a very wise way to go.

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I hope you are keeping your strength,physical as as well as spiritually.
God bless at this difficult time.

#1. By terry on March 08, 2010

I am a fan of yours on phat, btw.

Your fa-in-law sounds depressed. There are good antidepressants for the elderly which can really help them. I think euthanasia is best reserved for people who are definitely dying of diagnosed diseases, which won’t get any better, will cause them severe pain or total dependence. In the situation you describe, i don’t think euth is a good alternative, assuming that it’s available (it’s not in the UK, as I understand).

#2. By kk on March 09, 2010

Its a difficult one as I battle with mental health issues and death even though am Christian.  Even though half the time I want to stay alive and the other half the time I experience negative thoughts on death.
As a Christian I kind of can comfort myself via God. 
Is you Father in law Christian?  Perhaps you could teach him to draw strength from God in those darker days of agony. 
Euthanasia is not an option for anyone never mind Christians.  Just like Suicide may seem the best way but it isn’t.  But how do we get through those moments?  We all share with people we feel comfortable with sharing and heavily rely on God at those hard times. Overlooked but Psalm 23 is amazing in these times.

#3. By ann on July 17, 2010

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