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Letting Go When it is Time to Die

In last Friday's discussion here of physician-assisted death, reader Mary left, in part, this comment about who should have the right to use this service:

”I’d take this even further than if one is terminally ill,” wrote Mary. “I would definitely include Alzheimers. I would want the choice to be able to end my life if I was just old, tired, not feeling well and simply ready to go having had a good long life.”

This got me thinking about my Great Aunt Edith.

She was a fascinating woman, ahead of her time by miles but today isn't the place for her full story, just the end of it.

For 20 years or so leading up to Aunt Edith's death at age 89, I in New York City and she in Portland, Oregon spoke on the phone for an hour or so every weekend.

We talked about everything under the sun and although current affairs and politics were high on our agenda, there were books and movies and recipes and and all sorts of things to talk about. We never ran silent.

In between, Aunt Edith snail-mailed (no internet yet) me New Yorker cartoons, magazine and newspaper articles and other assorted information she wanted to share with me.

It was a lively relationship even at such a long distance from one another.

After many years, I noticed some slippage in her interests. Fewer snailmail envelopes came my way. Occasionally, she lamented that her old eyes got too tired to read easily anymore or even watch television sometimes. Her political opinions became fewer and more muted compared to the past.

This didn't happen all at once. In fact, by the time I noticed it, it had been there for months, slowly expanding – or, perhaps, I should say contracting. After a year or more, I realized that she was gradually letting go of the world around her.

Her interests continued to diminish until not too far short of her 90th birthday, Aunt Edith died.

Ever since then, I have hoped for a similar death, that when it is time to go, like Aunt Edith, I will have lost interest in the worldly things that engage me and lead me now.

Well, at least until the demise of the Trump era presents itself. I will be mightily pissed off to miss that.

Which brings me back to Mary's desire:

”I would want the choice to be able to end my life if I was just old, tired, not feeling well and simply ready to go having had a good long life.”

My first thought when I read that was, “Of COURSE that should be true.”

One of the things that is hard about being old in the United States, is that the “rules” - that is, the types of care and care homes, medical procedures, medications, health advice and government policy decisions affecting old people are made by people who are not old, who have no personal experience at growing old.

A whole lot of them think they know what is best for old folks. But aside from professional caregivers, they do not. The ultimate decision makers – politicians and corporate honchos – don't know and I don't think they much care either.

One example, pharmaceutical companies hardly ever include people older than 50 or so in drug trials so physicians have no idea how dosages should be adjusted for old people's bodies that function differently from younger adults.

And in the six or seven U.S. states that allow physician-assisted death, the politicians who drafted the legislation severely restricted the circumstances under which it may be used.

Why in the world should this be so? Whatever one's physical and health condition, why shouldn't people be allowed to end their lives when the time feels right to them?

Some have argued that people can shoot themselves or stop eating or chase down other means of dying. But why should they when there is a humane way to death not involving shocking violence or difficulty in carrying it out?

In monitoring myself since my cancer diagnosis 20 months ago, I've noticed a reduction in the intensity of some of my interests. I've dropped many political, current events and even health and ageing newsletters I've read regularly for years.

It feels similar to what I saw with Aunt Edith gradually bowing out of her engagement with life and the world around her.

I am convinced that I have been going through the early stages of this disengagement and I will know better than anyone when it is time for me to go. I've made all the assisted death arrangements with my medical team but I can do it only in one circumstance: when doctors decide I have fewer than six months to live.

Maybe that's not the right time for me. And anyway, why should the state care or regulate when an old person wants to take his/her leave?


Save me from people who want to do to me in order to protect me. OTOH: Some people are "blessed" with relatives who, right or wrong, go to the extreme of taking over legal (or de facto) control of their lives. Sometimes I feel that a son, daughter, or other relative needs to be slapped silly!

You, and we, should be able to go when we wish to go. All good, warm wishes to you, Ronni.

"The rules are made... by people who are not old, who have no personal experience at growing old."

I have come to understand that there is no possible way for this to change. Once you have reached the letting-go stage, you no longer have any power to affect the rules. And no matter how carefully you try to explain what it's like, even to sympathetic younger folk who really want and try to understand, they're not equipped for it. They're not ready to get it.

There needs to be the emergence of at least one organization dedicated to advancing, acknowledging and informing the public about and for the sensible rights of older people with regard to dying with dignity when the alternative is living when incapable of functioning at a minimal level where their life cannot be sustained by them alone. Or something along this variant.

I have no illusions that those with means or connections are able to obtain whatever is needed. I know this to be the case for some I've known years ago. This will become the new underground 'hot spot,' especially once the boomer generation ages more.

Our life belongs to our self, so should our death. How dare they expect us to starve ourselves, walk into a desert without water, use guns, pills or other lethal means.

Warmest of thoughts to you, Ronni, always. Thanks for all you do and are.

for me, I question our patriarchal system of governance which says, "I know what's best for you." And the hope I hold dearly in my heart, is that we can become curious about why someone may feel differently and then allow our differences/diversity the space to flourish.

When my MIL died, she had been ailing for quite a while. She could no longer see well enough to drive, she had a tremor, and her mind was sort of in and out...we were told it was due the the medications, but I'm not so sure.

I finally got her two main docs together at the hospital, and asked them (when my husband was not around) just exactly what the prognosis was. They said that her condition at that time was about as good as it was every going to be. They had already amputated her foot and part of her leg, and wanted to do a third amputation, to above the knee, for "pain control." I told both docs that they needed to tell her what they had just told me, so they did. They caught her in a rare moment of lucidity, between the drugs and the pain, and told her.

When they left, she looked at me and said, "Now, we're going to fight this thing." Before I could come up with something tactful to say, my mouth blurted, "Addy, with what? You've been fighting for 6 months. Maybe it's time to rest."

The next time the nurse came in, Addy grabbed her arm and said, clear as a bell, "I want to die." I can't begin to express the chills of fear and guilt I felt when I heard that.

It was a Friday afternoon, and she was gone early Monday morning. I still feel twinges of guilt about essentially giving her permission to die. Sometimes I think she might have felt I was giving up on her. She was so feeble and diminished, and I could see that she had so little fight left, it seemed a kindness to let her go.

Thank you Ronni, for bringing conversations like this to all of us.

REMINDER: Links are not allowed in comments. I don't have time to vet them and too many are self-serving advertisements disguised as comments.

Although we passed a Death with Dignity law in Colorado, there are still a lot of roadblocks. You have to find doctors willing to participate. You also have to find a hospital willing to participate. Many if not most of our hospitals are church-affiliated and flatly refuse to have anything to do with the process.

I don't understand why our society is so willing to help our pets die peacefully and painlessly, but won't accord humans the same privilege.

25 years ago I visited my my mother when she was hospitalized for several days after a major stroke and in a coma just short of her 83rd birthday. I had read that people often need permission to leave this earthly plane and so I talked to her, told her I loved her, and I gave her my permission...she died that night never having reached consciousness.

She had been in declining health for 10 years prior to this and had TIAs that affected her ability to speak, and in a wheelchair, could not walk, for the previous year. Her quality of life was so diminished I think it was a blessing that she died as she did. My father, 85, was taking care of her as best he was able but it was a struggle.

It was a beautiful note from Veronica about her MIL's situation, and the outcome. I am 79 and in good health but one never knows what the future will bring and I want to be able to have a certain quality of life as I age in my home with my 78 year old husband and 4 year old cats....fortunately we live in California re the DWD laws.

Agree, agree, agree, we should be able to choose our time. My biggest fear is Alzheimer’s as both my mother and aunt died from this and this eliminates the 6 month rule in the states that allow it.
Like another reader, I believe this will become a hot button baby boomer issue. I cared for both parents and don’t want to go through what either did even though both had hospice. I want choice when I am capable of making it.
Ronni, you keep hitting the target again and again with your thoughts.

”I would want the choice to be able to end my life if I was just old, tired, not feeling well and simply ready to go having had a good long life.”

As an end of life specialist and doula, my colleagues and I are paying very close attention to this issue. A frequent objection we hear is the fear that assisted suicide might become a slippery slope to something dangerous and unpleasant. "Hospice" still has a serious taboo for many people, as does the word "suicide". As much as I agree with the poster, I think the words 'old, tired, not feeling well' won't be grounds for assisted suicide for several decades at least. The way Americans view death and dying is indeed changing, but there's a great deal of resistance. I'm grateful to be part of this conversation with all of you.

Thank you for reposting Mary's comments. And yours about your aunt.

I've never quite understood why suicide - or the choice to die - is so wrong. Yes, there are those who don't succeed and say they are glad. And we will never know if those who do succeed regret it. Illness - physical or mental - or just life's circumstances sometimes become too much and the choice should be individual. I know all the arguments against it and that religion plays a huge role as does the inability for survivors to secure insurance if death is by one's own hand.

If we use 'old' and 'sick' as the criteria and in most cases in states and DC the '6 months to live' rule, then who really knows? I have a cousin who's 96, very sick and with dementia and whose body won't give out. His daughter deals w/ the horror of his anger as do his caregivers. And how long can one's money hold out to cover care-givers when one can't be cared for at home?

It's all nuts. Why aren't we all rethinking life and death? And if we did have support - the means to live better, a bit more comfortably, we might choose life over death but then maybe not. Why do others have the right to decide how we live?

A couple of answers to your question: Why in the world should this be so?

First: Isn't ageism bad enough? Sounds like you've never seen the classic movie "Soylent Green"? That's one reason: The slippery slope. Think about how young people say we're just using up their resources. It would quite likely lead to people being pressured to end their own lives. As climate change continues and wars are fought over water, that likelihood looms far larger than ever.

Second: Maybe we haven't fulfilled our purpose here, if there is one, until we run the full gamut. Maybe there's a reason with far more consequences than we realize that most religions would consider it a sin. I can't help but think that there are many possible ramifications of checking out early. Yet the idea of people enduring gruesomely painful deaths is abhorrent, too.

Third: Assisted death started in Europe, so they're already considering what Mary mentioned. "Completed Life," they call it. Consider these two paragraphs:

"Two years ago the Netherlands’ health and justice ministers issued a joint proposal for a 'completed life' pill that would give anyone over 70 years of age the right to receive a lethal poison, cutting the doctor out of the equation completely. In the event, the fragmented nature of Dutch coalition politics stopped the proposal in its tracks, but doctors and end-of-life specialists I spoke to expect legislation to introduce such a completed-life bill to come before parliament in due course.

"Assuming it could be properly safeguarded (a big assumption), the completed-life pill would not necessarily displease many doctors I spoke to; it would allow them to get back to saving lives. But while some applicants for euthanasia are furious with doctors who turn them down, in practice people are unwilling to take their own lives. Rather than drink the poison or open the drip, 95% of applicants for active life termination in the Netherlands ask a doctor to kill them. In a society that vaunts its rejection of established figures of authority, when it comes to death, everyone asks for Mummy."

Much to my surprise, I became aware some months ago that I no longer had the interest in things that used to fascinate me. I have even given up my interest in politics with the exception of, like you Ronni, seeing -rump get his just deserts along with most Republicans - especially McConnell and Pence.

I no longer get emotional about things that happen and my life is bland, but I prefer it that way. Am I letting go or just tired without the energy it takes to get excited? I guess time will tell.

I do get angry with the people who think they know what's best for other people. I have a right to make decisions as to what I do with my own body and the time of my death should be available without jumping through hoops. The hypocrisy of those who make decisions for others based on religion is galling.

Sorry. I didn't know we couldn't post links. The article I mentioned linking to is titled "Death on demand: has euthanasia gone too far?" published in The Guardian, a UK newspaper.

There are many organizations that help people think through these things but that are basically advocates for assisted death. The one here in Washington (state) has very good info that's useful, regardless, even for those in other states. It's not affiliated with the government. It's called End of Life Washington.

"One of the things that is hard about being old in the United States, is that the “rules” - that is, the types of care and care homes, medical procedures, medications, health advice and government policy decisions affecting old people are made by people who are not old, who have no personal experience at growing old."

Amen sister, Amen.

As Judith pointed out, the basis for the prohibition is religious doctrine. One of the ways religion undergirds state rules. Following this justification for the prohibition, it seems to me if one is atheist, or if one's religion would allow it, assisted suicide should be legal. I don't believe my life should be ruled by doctrine from churchgoers.

Amen! Thank you Ronni.

Bruce--Some time ago, I believe one of your posts implied that the Equal Rights Amendment had become a part of the Constitution. For what it's worth: the ERA has not yet met the requirements to be added to the Constitution.
I enjoy your writing!

I so agree with you. Then again, a dear friend died recently. She was 56. Her Lymphoma kept returning . She whispered to me the day before she died that she wasn't ready to die. Perhaps too we have the right to live.

Once again, Ronni, you opened the floodgates on a topic that deserves much more consideration , particularly with the large numbers of people turning 65 a day ( I think I read 1,000 per day in the USA). We are already seeing the proliferation of memory-care facilities popping up like elementary schools did in th 1950s - 1960s.

Those facilities are mostly (IMO) like the mental hospitals used to be ... warehouses.

Thanks for breaching the topic and thanks to all for commenting

I so agree that those of religious persuasion (count me out) should NOT dictate how, when or where I choose to end my life. It is, after all, MY life and MY (gradually dissembling) body. Yet, many so-called "pro life" laws (e.g., anti-abortion, anti-end of life choice) can probably be traced back to religion. Some believe that suffering is somehow "ennobling" or brings them closer to their god. That's their right but please--don't impose it on me.

I don't worry much about the slippery slope. I never did, but it seems less of an issue at 82 than it did at 52. Perhaps that is because I am nearer to a "completed life". I couldn't agree more that the policies governing how older people live, and die, are made mostly by those in their 30s, 40s and 50s. I also agree that as the Baby Boomers age, there may be a big shift in how people die. I hope so even though it will likely happen too late to help my generation.

Diane Rehm, a retired NPR host, has written movingly about her husband's decision to end his life by declining food. He had Parkinson's and felt he was ready to depart this world. Diane supported him in this decision, but the experience turned her into an activist on the subject.

I don't have a lot to add to the discussion, except I agree with everyone about the right to choose. I am recovering from a huge surgery that included a laryngectomy.
Then, last week, I learned that my eldest daughter has had a recurrence of the cancer she she was treated for twelve years ago, either that, or a new one, with a spot on her pancreas. It looks very bad for her. She and her partner had plans--to marry and move to the Northwest. They were happy. I am almost 79, and I will probably plug along for quite a while, and, along with grief, I'm having survivor guilt. We could get a surprise. I fervently hope so. I said to friends the other day, if I'd died at a reasonable age, I wouldn't be going through this! I had been in robust good health until this surgery, which I came through with flying colors as a result, albeit minus a voice. We had a discussion about the blessings and curses of a long life.

I do agree in principle that assisted death is probably over regulated. I suspect the strict procedures are in place to keep someone from impulsively taking that final step, and possibly to protect doctors who facilitate them. I suspect that some loosening of procedures might happen over time. Remember, that just having these laws is a huge step that only a few states have decided to take.

Like many of you, I would avail myself of legal assisted death under the right circumstances, but devoutly hope I never have to make that decision.

"Some have argued that people can shoot themselves or stop eating or chase down other means of dying. But why should they when there is a humane way to death not involving shocking violence or difficulty in carrying it out?"

Until we have been in a situation it can be difficult to understand the choices people make, especially so in the case of end of life. Over the past ten years I have been close enough to observe changes in three women in my family, ages 88, 93 and 99, as they reached those ages, and up through their deaths. The most common behavior among them during their last weeks of of life was stopping eating and drinking. This wasn't something that was imposed on any of them, and for two of the three, there was no attempt to artificially intervene in that, though food and fluid continued to be offered. The third was transferred a few times from the care facility she had lived in for nearly fifteen years, to a hospital where she would get treatment for a day or two and then be sent back. None of the three seemed to suffer at the time of death, and, in fact appeared to be peaceful and comfortable. I know for a fact that two of them were on no medication at the end, and I think that was also true for the third.

I believe that the body, when it is ready, and death is natural, does its best to shut down and let life slip away, but that can be a very inconsistent process, and there can be sharp swings between appearing to be on the threshold of death, and reviving to live many more days, weeks, months, even years. I recently observed this with my mother over the past few weeks. We had been called in twice by nursing staff at her care facility alerting us that death seemed very imminent. A few days after the second such call, when we arrived for visit, she seemed to have rallied, and was fairly alert, dressed, and sitting in her wheelchair at the dining table. taking food and drink, and responding to questions, although not always intelligibly. Less than a week later, she had again taken to her bed, quit eating and passed quietly and peacefully. I never had a sense of anything inhumane about it, and I can't imagine how she might have been any more comfortable or content in any other scenario.

These women were all fortunate to have been very healthy up to the end, with no life-threatening diseases requiring surgery or harsh treatments, nor even more common conditions requiring regular medication. However, two of the three suffered from dementia that had become quite severe by the end of their lives. As an aging society, we have done a woeful job of preparing for the prevalence of this hideous condition, and I'm so hoping that we either quickly find something that prevents or reverses this, or the incidence begins dropping significantly (though I realize that would be something of a miracle). Even the best facilities providing dementia care cannot do much to help those suffering from this. From your reports Ronni, and comments of others here, cancer treatment has vastly improved over the decades. From what I've seen in recent years, there is little being done, or perhaps that can be done, for those suffering from advanced dementia, other than keep them safe, clean and physically cared for. It's no wonder that the turnover in staff at "memory care" facilities is as high as it is.

Once again, a topic that will have me thinking and exploring my own mind in a way that seems to come only from reading your blog, Ronni.
You are a gift and treasured friend (even if we've never met).

What a thoughtful bunch of readers you have, Ronni! There is nothing they said that I don't agree with, especially the fact that underlying the laws and attitudes we have about suicide is the Christian (and Judiac) prohibition of it.

I am a few weeks away from 69. I have no real health problems, but do have significant arthritis pain in many joints. It gets worse the more active I am. I thus am limited in doing my favorite activities, gardening and walking. Conventional medicine has little to offer me.

I really dread significant disability/dementia, for many reasons, and I watched my husband slowly die over a period of years, wanting life despite everything. It made no sense to me. But I am not and never will be a person who is content to sit and accept whatever life brings me.

So much of our medical approach is a reflection of our death-and-aging phobic society that I have decided to avoid contact with doctors unless I have an obvious problem. Why do I need to know that my heart is weakening or I have stage 4 cancer before I actually have symptoms from it? It's all so anxiety-driven. Yes, if I were a younger woman, or had children at home, or my husband were still alive I'd want to live longer. If moving around didn't hurt me, maybe my attitude would be different.

But in my life I've lived in 7 different countries and spent time in many more. I have a master's degree, have been both divorced and widowed, and my only child will be 40 in a few months. He is doing well, though I have no grandchildren. I've survived 3 kinds of cancer. I've had 2 rewarding careers and I know that I have contributed a lot to society. That's enough.

I am getting so tired of watching the march of folly. Lying, cheating, stealing, raping, killing - it never ends. Certainly the world is beautiful, and there is much good in life, but human selfishness is well on the way to destroying all that. I don't watch any TV - check the news on my computer - find almost all popular music both boring and annoying. A lot about modern society appalls me. (Not the least of which is our sociopathic president). I mean, really, what kind of people approve of someone like him??

So let death come when it may. Who gets the right to tell me I must live past 75, or 80, or whatever? What cheerful, condescending, unaware nitwit gets to give me rules and regulations? Sheesh. If you want to live to shit in your diapers and have someone feed you your meals, feel free, but leave me out of it. If you want to get a ride to bingo and get Meals on Wheels, knock yourself out, but I'd rather be dead. Fat, dumb, and happy is not my style.

We have to take responsibility for ourselves, and no one wants to. It's hard. But without it you just inhabit life, you don't really LIVE it.

Another thought provoking topic, Ronni. Thank you.

When my husband of 56 years died in 2011, I scratched around a lot to find some ease and peace about it all. I was helped by a Journal, kept by C.S. Lewis during the loss of his own dear wife. It was published posthumously by his stepson under the title "A GRIEF OBSERVED". I don't believe he meant it to be public, yet I'm grateful it became so. It is a small book, and very personal....nearly like a conversation with the man himself.

This bit has stayed with me....brought to mind by Ronni's post and all the thoughtful comments about end of life issues.

C. S. Lewis "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity, avarice, and greed may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

Thanks Ronni for making me think again. I do have an advance directive but I can see it's needs refining. I live in Washington State and so have some options available to me. I have no idea if I would take them up but I value the option to do so.

We have one hospital in town and it is run by a religious organization which does not support Death with Dignity legislation. There is a hospice organization here that does. If I were to fall seriously ill it's the hospital will get me first. Should I tattoo DNR on my chest? I can see I need to have a chat with my doctor and do some checking. I am fortunate in that my children support and agree with my choices.

10000000000000 X agree.


Bruce Cooper I like your writing style.

Agree wholeheartedly that each individual should have the choice. We all know people who linger day after day who are miserable with no chance to suddenly regain any quality of life. Comfort and quality rank so much higher than length for me. Everyone is entitled to choice.

I agree others' religions should not dictate my end.

I STRONGLY support the right to die at a time of my choosing.

My Dad wanted to die for many years, but his body would not let go.

I saw the withdrawal from life in my Mum towards her end - she just wanted to go.

My ill husband sensed his demise. The day prior, he made his legal arrangements.

I look at people older than me struggling on their own. I'm getting close to that stage now. I'd welcome death with open arms. I want the departure at my time of choice.

Would that California’s so-called “Death With Dignity” law really allowed either dignity or comfort to the one who deems his or her life to be complete. What, I ask, is dignified about meeting “stringent requirements” established by a State agency based on laws passed by the State legislature? What is dignified about convincing not one but two physicians that one is qualified and has the right to choose to end one’s life? What is dignified about getting those two physicians, who know little that is personal about you, to certify to their approval of your choice in writing? What is dignified about being required to have your wishes witnessed by two more people, neither of whom can be a relative?

One look at the extremely long list of “stringent requirements” in the Act would drive even the most determined old person to self-starvation or a gun to the head. Nobody should be involved in this decision except the one whose death it is. Nobody. The alleged reason for the stringent requirements is to safeguard the individual from an impulsive decision. So what if it is an impulsive decision? A stroke or a traffic accident has the same consequences as an impulsive suicide, but no one suggests that stringent requirements can be established to keep either of these things from happening. Only rules similar to those proposed by the Netherlands, which cut the doctor out of the equation completely, have any relevance to this decision. The only requirements should involve an age cutoff, with an exception for terminal illness.

Until and unless we get more civilized and less stringent requirements, I am not at all comforted by death with dignity laws.

Totally agree with all. When the party is over, I just want to leave.

It's mystifying to me why the private matter of death is the state's business at all, but oh boy does the state busy itself around this above all things. It's almost like a . . . what do they call it? reaction formation? against the collective squeamishness about death. How they bustle in immediately afterwards, with their officiousness and paperwork, their, shall we say, anal compulsion to get it all nailed down -- this most elusive of phenomena, at once the hardest of facts and the most evaporative vanishing. I was there for Jacques' last breath (he didn't stop, he left,, but where did he go??) but his official time of death was when the stranger from hospice (it was Friday night, our team was off) showed up 45 minutes later and "called" it. And that was just the beginning. I kept saying to myself, Why is this their business at all? It seemed so intrusive, even invasive. I could be quite a libertarian about this one thing. Let them busy themselves with taking better care of the living, and let us die and bury one another in peace.

Another bull's-eye topic Ronni, and such spirited and moving comments. I was in tears reading Mary's post: I identified so strongly with her life and sentiments.

Three young people in my community recently committed suicide, essentially due to extreme unhappiness. Those events made me realize why our society holds such a dim view of suicide, it really does wreak havoc on friends, family and even the larger community. However, the voluntary death of old people should be a different story, we should have more agency in the matter. I just don't know how you distinguish between the two things, and apparently neither do our legislators. The current state of assisted death is so hemmed in by rules that I'm not sure I'd want to take advantage of it. The last counsel of the dying Buddha to his followers was, look to your own salvation.

It's nice (perhaps not the best choice of words in the circumstances being discussed) to find that quite a few TGB readers share the same end-of-life opinions as I do--along a spectrum, of course. I sincerely hope that I'm not faced with the choice of voluntary dehydration/starvation or a gun (SO messy!) at the end of my life. However, either likely would be preferable to lingering indefinitely in an understaffed nursing home in my old-old age, debilitated/immobile, in pain, out of money and alone with no hope of improvement--just because a bunch of 30 to 40-somethings think that preserving my "life" at all costs is the right thing to do. If that doesn't sound hellish, I don't know what does.

I totally agree with C.S. Lewis and Charlene about tyrannies exercised by moral busybodies on others "for their own good". Bah, humbug! Death with some semblance of dignity should be a human right. We do better by our pets.

Fiftysomething people don't think or care about older people.
But they are wrong, because they are advancing rapidly to old age. When they get there, they wish things were different and older citizens, themselves included, were treated with respect .
What they should do right now is to learn some gerontology (the science of aging and old age) make demands and try to change things for the better for their own future.
They will get old, if they are lucky, and woudn't it be nicer to have an old age that you can control?

Nothing will change in this country and give us the right to a choice and human dignity because the religious right has too much power in our government and are trying to get even more.

I am in full agreement with the "right to die". However, for me personally, I would have to decide if taking my own life would influence my potential eternal life or next life. Right now, I was raised to consider suicide as a sin or worse. I suppose, when at death's door, I might not care, just wanting out asap. On topic, my mother and I talked on the phone daily for about two years up until just before her death. On my last call with her, ever, I started talking about the old neighborhood, as usual, and all of the goings on but she stopped me cold and said "I'm not interested in that anymore", and our conversation quickly trailed off as did her life. Her interests were someplace beyond this life--not even interested in me, her favorite son (so my sister insisted I was)--as hard as that was for me to grasp. There is a lot out there that we don't understand about the death experience, needless to say. It's a secret.

Yes, it is "a secret", as John said, yet curious minds like ours seem fascinated by that fact. I worked with a great clinical psychologist for a few years that got his advanced degree by way of Theology. ( he said, "faster and easier than the M.D.")

Is suicide a "sin"? I certainly do not know. But here is another view from Dr. Blees.
(now deceased). He maintained it was simply a Greek archery term, translated as "sin". The Biblical Greek terms sometimes originate from words in the latter languages and this one was denoting the act as a state of simply missing the mark.

If one has a sense of faith at all...I don't think the kind of a "God" that condemns a soul to "eternal hell" for making a judgement in his own behalf with the brain they were given would interest me for even 5 minutes. I remember a single panel cartoon from years ago with Moses carrying a stone tablet inscribed..."Thank you for not sinning".

Not every decision I make is a "bulls eye" and that cartoonist still makes me laugh.

Perhaps I should sign this 'Pollyanna in Portland'.

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