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Supporting dying with dignity

Thursday, 11 October 2012  |  Admin

I was really unsure whether to write this blog post or not. After all, I normally stick to safe topics about babies, nappy changing and family life, with maybe a bit of foodie-ness thrown in for good measure. However this has been on my mind for a while so I'm going to put it out there....

How would you like to die?

Death is the one thing that comes to us all. It's inevitable. But have you ever given any thought to how you'd like to die? To be fair it's probably not something that most people think about, but if you've ever watched someone die it does sort of bring it to mind. On one hand, I like the idea of the whole ' go to sleep, not wake up' thing. Selfishly, as the dead person, you'd be quite happy, quick, pain free release to whatever you happen to believe comes next (or not). I think this is hard for the families left behind however, as you miss on the chance to say farewell which is a very precious thing.

On the other hand, the other sort of death (illness, then death) can be pretty horrific for all concerned. Personally I've watched family members die and it's not pretty. Most recently D's gifted, eccentric uncle finally succumbed to the lung cancer which first made an intrusion into his life almost 9 years ago. Remarkably, he held the cancer in submission for 8 of those years which was amazing. He got to know all of our 4 children as a result and for that I'll always be grateful. However he became ill again early this year. His last months were, to put it bluntly, bloody awful. As a result of the cancer spreading he began to lose his sight, his hearing, control over his bodily functions. For such a highly intelligent, dignified gentleman, it was a shocking way to die.

What's even worse though is that he had no choice in the matter. In fairness there was good palliative care, but in the words of my Father-in-law 'if he was a dog, I'd be up in court for keeping him alive like that'. And I agree. I remember watching my grandfather die from liver cancer 20 years ago. At some stage during one of the nights that we sat with him, I remember saying to my Mum 'If he was a dog, we would put him out of his misery'.

So why can't we? It seems ridiculous that we can decide to terminate a life in the womb, but can't aid someone who is suffering and has chosen to end their life with dignity, with the support of family and friends.

Of course, there would have to be controls, I'm not suggesting a free-for all of granny killing. But in a humane society, it's something that should be considered and discussed. So think about it. Think how you would feel if it was your loved one. Think how you would feel if it was yourself....

As always if you've got an opinion, let me know...

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