There are two certainties in life. We are born, and we die. The time span naturally varies greatly from person to person. But what happens if we become so dependent on others, be that through old age or through debilitating illness, or dementia in old age, that our quality of life, dignity and self respect is no longer there?
What happens when in old age, we are no longer the bright, sharp person we once were? With the population getting older, the number of cases of Alzheimer’s and Dementia has gone up. Because we have the physical ability to live well into our 90’s, doesn’t necessarily mean that our brains can too. Like all great machines, be that a computer, an engine or a Jet, over time the parts begin to fail. The very core begins to weaken through wear and tear.
What is so horrifying about being able to choose (when you’re still in your right mind), when, where and how you’ll die?
I know it’s a very taboo subject, and I’m trying my hardest to tread carefully and be as sympathetic as possible, but if someone is in pain, has no chance of recovery, or is losing their faculties and requires constant care and attention (I don’t mean elderly people that just need help with the heavy lifting), should they not have the choice to say what they want?
The problem with euthanasia is that it is the ultimate absolution. It’s not like a divorce, where 2 people can quite happily get along, just not married. It’s final. That person ceases to be.
But if you look at the flip side, for example Dementia, the person they were already has ceased to be. That once vibrant, glamorous woman who was your grandmother is now a quivering shell dressed in flannel PJ’s and a dressing gown. That dashing, charismatic man who raised you and you called Dad, is now a violent, frustrated man who can’t comprehend what’s going on.
They are no longer the people they once were. The cruelty of the condition, is that it strips away, piece by piece, layer by layer, who they are. And in the end, all independence, compassion, memories, even basic bodily functions are dwindled away. Leaving a shell of a person filled with nothing but confusion.
The right to die has been a hot topic for some time, however, I honestly believe, that should someone who is in their right mind, and is 100% certain of how they want to control their fate, they should have every right to. It’s not fun getting older, nor is death the most lovely conversation to have, but it happens to us all. If someone says they accept their mortality, and that should something happen, their wishes should be fulfilled, whether you agree with it or not.
As adults, we have to have some truly uncomfortable conversations, because we are mortal, and life can’t always revolve around recipes, knitting patterns and how to best clean the bathroom mirror.