I’ll Die When I Feel Like It, Part I

The right to die is a topic that interests me a great deal, partly because I read about healthcare ethics for fun, and partly because I have some semi-specific thoughts about how I’d like to die (see: this recent post) and what I’d like to have happen to me when I’m dead (see: this kickass dealy). I told Husband that I want a pine tree to compensate for my mercurial nature in life because evergreens are steadfast and I am not. I also asked him to put a bench under Tree Laura so people can read to me because I’ve heard that being dead is super boring.

So, I was reading a right to die discussion today and I reminded my husband (again) that I made him promise to help me buy the farm if I become demented because I don’t wanna die frightened and confused. Actually, the thing that might be worse is what my grandfather is going through right now. He has dementia – possibly Alzheimer’s – resultant of a stroke he had 12 years ago, and he’s still cogent enough to understand that he’s losing his mind. He’s like completely aware of his eroding cognitive faculties and he’s super depressed about it, as anyone would be because he knows that, at some point, maybe soon, his mind is gonna become this tormented and horrifying place where he’ll grasp desperately at every thought like it’s an unfindable word on the tip of his tongue. That’s gonna fucking suck for all of us. I never want to know what that feels like. There’s some dementia on the other side of my family too, so it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me to plan ahead in case my brain – my very favorite body part, though my magnificent collarbones are a close second – turns to grits and I can’t remember any of the cool stuff I know or any of the awesome people I love.

I realize this is a topic that might be painful for some people who have watched a loved one succumb to dementia or people who have lost a loved one to suicide. But it’s worth talking about. So, tell me: How do you feel about the right to die?  Would you ever elect to end your own life (not because of your mental illness, but because you’ve reasoned it out ahead of time)? Would you help your partner, your best friend, your sister, your dad end their life if they saw no other way out and asked you to? Discuss. All arguments are welcome.


Tagged: aging, death, dementia, dignity, discuss, ethics, mental health, right to die, suicide

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