My Mom posted this article on Facebook yesterday. It's about a woman who chose to die with dignity instead of living the rest of her life wasting away with dementia.
By the end of the second paragraph my jaw had literally dropped, and my eyes had started to well up:
On Monday morning shortly before noon, Gillian Bennett dragged a foam mattress from her home on Bowen Island to one of her favourite spots on the grass, facing a craggy rock cliff, the place she had chosen to die.
Bennett, who was 85 and in the early stages of dementia, chose to take her own life with a draught of good whiskey, a dose of Nembutal mixed with water and her husband of 60 years by her side.Holy shit. That's some powerful stuff. The thing is, those tears that almost but didn't come out because I'm not some little bitch, those were tears of sadness and joy all at the same time. Up until I read that, I didn't know that was even a thing. Tears of joy, sure. I've had that watching puppies or a nice sunrise. Tears of sadness, duh. But both at the same time? Mind blowing.
I don't have a lot of strong opinions on major issues because I don't consider myself educated enough, or I can see both sides of the story. Death penalty is a good example. For the life of me I can't decide if I'm pro or con. Some days I think it's the most barbaric thing in the world, other days I think it's a damn good idea. I seriously cannot make up my mind.
But there are a few fundamental human rights that are controversial to some, but no question for me: gay marriage, abortion and euthanasia.
Everyone is stuck with the body they're dealt at birth. Sometimes that body is great (case in point: mine). Sometimes that body is not so great (case in point: my wife, who looks great but is more fragile than peace in the Middle East). Modern medicine allows us to make changes to our bodies, be it plastic surgery or insulin shots, in order to lead more productive lives, but medicine has its limits and sometimes there's nothing you can do but suffer in your shitty shitty body.
Everyone should have the choice about whether they want to keep living in their shitty bodies. We have the ability to make all the other choices: haircuts, tattoos, weight gain, gender reassignment, glasses, kidney donation. We're in control of our bodies in every way except the ultimate one: we're not allowed to legally give up on our bodies. Or at least, we're not allowed to ask for help. As a result, people end up having to do it on their own, which means that their loved ones end up stumbling upon their bodies, which is just not right. Especially if they chose chainsaw. Dying with dignity means being able to choose how and when (already allowed) and to be able to ask for help so that you don't make a mess or traumatize anyone (not allowed). In the above mentioned story, the woman had her husband by her side, but:
“She wouldn’t let me help her, and I didn’t wish to,” said Jonathan. “I don’t know where she got the Nembutal or the instructions; she didn’t tell me.” Nor did she let him help her drag the mattress outside, although that final effort was physically difficult for her... He and his wife knew that if anyone assisted her, they would be breaking the law. “Gillian and I both disliked and disapproved of the laws making it impossible to help a loved one with something as important as death.”Jesus christ.
Some people will say "Think about who you're leaving behind". To that I say screw that shit. If my loved ones would rather I stay alive in a constant state of suffering so that they don't have to cry for a week, then they're not really the kind of loved ones I'd stay alive for.
My death plan, if I can manage it, is this: The Irish Goodbye. I'd duck out to my favourite place, the wilderness, and just fend for myself until I decide I'm done. I'd leave a note for whoever's left behind:
Dear loved ones: Thank you so much for helping me enjoy my time on Earth. We've had many great adventures and we'll live on in each other's hearts and minds. I want you to be happy that I've run off to finish existing under my terms. I will die soon, and I will die happy. Take that to your graves. I love you all.I don't know how I'll off myself, I'll probably get creative. I might even try death by moose. However I've already decided that when the time comes, I'm going to start smoking again. I really miss smoking, but common sense prevents me from starting up. When I'm going out under my own terms? Smoke 'em if you got 'em. Also booze.
Oh and in the event that I'm incapacitated and can't make the trek out to the woods, no problem because I'll have my living will tattooed across my chest: