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When a loved-one is sick in hospital, no one protests when we say their death would be a ‘merciful release’.
When we are told ‘there’s nothing more that can be done’, we whisper to our loved-one that we give them our permission ‘to go’, even though medicine can, and does, keep people alive long past their natural end.
We’ve all wept beside a coffin and consoled ourselves that the deceased was better off and wouldn’t have wanted to survive without quality of life.
Yet, when a person ends their life, we cannot conceive it as rational. Is it because the person made the decision and denied other people the chance to interfere?
The most basic expression of a person’s independence is choosing their moment of death. Is it because suicide is usually violent, and solitary, that we refuse to accept that it could be rational?
We are a nation of hypocrites.
We talk about how only ‘God’ can choose the moment of death, yet we think nothing of hooking people up to machines to prolong a life. We justify this by saying God gave us the intelligence to create life-support machines and curative drugs, but ignore that God also gave us the wit to design a plug that can be pulled out, and drugs that can peacefully end a life and suffering.
So, why shouldn’t a person decide? I don’t want to spend the rest of my life fighting a progressive illness. Some people decide they have had a good innings and it’s time to go, and get their affairs in order and let their loved ones comes to terms with their choice. If a person chooses to fight for every second of their life, then good for them. But their choice to do so should not be used as a justification to belittle those who choose not to take up such a battle, or who’ve had enough of the battle.
When someone ends their life, their loved-ones should not selfishly complain about how it has affected them.
The loved-ones should be glad that the deceased’s suffering is over and that they are at peace, and be thankful for the time that they have had with each other.
I have a progressive, long-term illness, and my quality of life will plummet and I’ll die decades earlier than my contemporaries.
At some point, I’ll reach the stage where enough is enough. For me, at the moment, that seems a long way off and there are things I want to achieve first.
But, I hope, when the time comes, if I’ve achieved my ambition to be able to move home to Ireland again, if there’s a life to be had at home, that society will afford me the respect and decency to allow me to make the end-of-life choice for myself.
Because, if there is a God, he or she will know what process brought someone to ending their life, and that God will know that he/she hasn’t given people free will only to then punish them for using it. It is my life and it is my right to choose if, when, and how to end it.
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