Recently there has been a lot of talk about a 29 year old woman named Brittany Maynard who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She intends on ending her own life by means of assisted suicide on November 1st. Her story breaks my heart and hits so close to home and I hope that the following may shed some perspective to those who regard the “need” for assisted suicide in their hearts.
November 19th, 2001 was the day that suicide tragically entered my life, up close and personal. My mother took her own life in a bathtub full water to ensure drowning as a back up plan to her pharmaceutical overdose. I found her body. Some support assisted suicide as a means to prevent such traumatic events from taking place. Yes, this method may take away the shock factor and remove the temptation of leaving ones self in a position of visual trauma, but it is still suicide and supporting it tells the contemplating person that their life really isn’t worth living.
We ALL want to avoid pain and anguish, it is a natural human response to adversity. Since when, as a society, does ending ones life become the supported solution to adversity? We have lost our way and manipulated the essence of compassion and mercy when we support this practice. I would like to invite you to read along and take in some thoughts of mine on this topic.
The Age/Pain Factor:
People argue for assisted suicide, but they put on stipulations like age and pain. It is only for the elderly that are really suffering, or for those with a terminal illness in severe pain. I ask this question. How do we determine someone else’s pain? How do we judge and say that a person aged twenty-five or forty-two has emotional or physical burdens that are less painful than that of a person aged ninety-five? Are you saying that a twenty year old still has a better chance to get over their emotional issue or that their body is stronger and can more easily sustain treatment? Are you saying that a twenty year old with extreme emotional turmoil will get over it and deny their ability to obtain assisted suicide, but a sixty year old with three times the life experience suddenly lacks the ability to overcome and mentally endure one more day?
We CANNOT compare peoples pain and decide that one person be qualified to have assistance to end their life while the other is denied and left with the temptation to do it by their own hand in a way that may just add more debilitating trauma to their family. How much pain and suffering does one have to bear and who can truly judge that? Who are we to determine what type of pain is acceptable to escape from? Even those reading this will have differing opinions, so why should we really take that into our own hands to figure out?
The Method/Cause of Death Factor:
It is argued that assisted suicide should only be for terminal illness. How do we know if those who hang themselves, shoot themselves, drown themselves or jump off of cliffs are suffering from a terminal illness? Maybe my mom was diagnosed with something fatal and she was too ashamed to admit it. Does anyone want to tell me or anyone else who has suffered this trauma that their choosing assisted suicide would hurt us less? Would it make us feel less rejected? Less betrayed? Going back to #1, who are we to determine the level of anguish a person is experiencing and who are we to decide who is qualified and who is not? By supporting assisted suicide, we are not simply supporting a method to assist the terminally ill from suffering pain, but just supporting a different cause of the same deliberate and suicidal death.
The Majority Support Factor:
Just because a person chooses assisted suicide and has a dozen or so loved ones surrounding their bed and saying goodbye and those present have accepted this fate and support the decision, does NOT mean that everyone who loved the person who is ending their own life was in support of it. It does not mean that no one is left to feel rejected and emotionally damaged over their decision. When we decide on life or death by a majority vote, we have lost our way.
The Convenience Factor:
If it hurts too much for us to watch someone suffer, is our support of their decision based on them or us? Is the person choosing assisted suicide coming up with this idea on their own? Do they feel guilty for what their loved ones will have to witness as they slowly and painfully die? Is it being offered by a doctor as an option and confirmed by the tired care giver as a “dignified” way to go?
“It will save so many medical bills and you can turn around and leave that money to your kids and grand kids” , “If you do it next week, Billy can be here before he is deployed for Afghanistan” , “You can do it at the end of the week of the family reunion and we will all be in town for the memorial so no one misses it”.
How many of these scenarios are REALLY occurring? Supporting ones suicide out of convenience is a terrible thing.
The Timing Factor:
Who are we to determine the timing of our own death? My grandma had diabetes and she spent the last several years of her life very sick and in bed. I got the call that she might not make it much longer and I went to see her. We had a broken relationship and we had not had much time to mend it. Had she opted for assisted suicide, I would have never been able to attempt to restore our relationship. While I was visiting to say goodbye she got better, her death rattle went away, and she started eating and drinking again. My grandma’s biggest fear was not to die, but to not be remembered.
My grandpa sat by her side day in and day out. He put together puzzles to pass the time. A few days before her death, he began to piece together a puzzle of the NYC World Trade Centers as the anniversary of the terrorist attacks was approaching.
It was the evening of September 11, 2008, he had just placed the last puzzle piece to complete the memorial puzzle. The nurses came in to check on my grandma as her vitals were dropping. Her declared time of death was 9:11pm on September 11, 2008. How can you forget THAT? I am sure this story will also stick with you and my grandma’s fears will be once again defeated. She will NOT be forgotten, just as she hoped and prayed. What a memorable moment to pass into heaven, something that would not have been had she gone with assisted suicide. How many impacting stories and redeeming memories are being missed out on because someone chose their own time?
The Playing God Factor:
Sadly I have been confronted harshly by many professing Christians on this topic. Some have even said that maybe God wants their loved one to die peacefully and in a dignified manner without loosing their physical abilities and pride. The rest of this message is specifically intended for those who profess faith in Christ and those who profess that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.
The only safe solution to these factors is to leave no guess work, to leave no what ifs, no chance of false motives from those set to gain from the persons sooner death. Let’s get out the way and simply let God be God and trust Him with life and death.
For those who profess faith in Christ and hold a position of support of assisted suicide, please consider the following.
It is said in many arguments for assisted suicide that it is more compassionate to allow suffering to end in a painless manner. Is there a person on earth that is MORE compassionate than God Almighty?
Who are we to know what lies around the corner? We do NOT contain such knowledge, whether a new experimental drug, a wealthy person donating to a hospital that provides a new grant to continue treatment, whether a 4th opinion would reveal that it is treatable or whether God will in fact HEAL.
People get hung up on the idea that we are not supposed to suffer. Suffering does NOT have to be a bad thing. Romans 8:18, For I consider that the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
What if Jesus chose NOT to suffer, where would our hope be? When He was on the cross, He was offered something to ease His suffering, He turned His head away and denied the deliverance of His pain. I do NOT say that someone should deny themselves the pain medication or comfort when they are terminal, I simply say that Jesus did NOT take the pain free route and HE is our example.
With God, NOTHING IS WASTED, He does NOT allow His children to go through something that He will NOT work for good.
Romans 8:28, For we know that God works ALL things together for good, for those who love Him and for those called according to His purposes.
Is your suffering loved one called to a higher purpose? Is there an eternal glory being worked through their pain and suffering? Will their suffering lead someone to Christ?
At the end of the day people, even Christians, are wrongfully advocating for assisted suicide. Their premise is disguised in romanticized words such as dignity and peaceful. Supporting ones death by their own hand and utilizing doctors to administer lethal drugs so that people won’t be tempted to leave their body for their family to find is just as off base as keeping abortion legal so women don’t injure themselves with coat hangers. We simply cannot justify this act. There are too many lives at stake!
I am passionate about LIFE, from conception to natural death. There can be so much beauty in our sufferings and so many lessons to learn when we witness it. I know this is a very touchy subject, especially for those who have had a loved one end their life through assistance. I am not out to call your loved one a bad guy/gal or smear them for their decision. I am SO sorry for your loss and I grieve the pain and suffering along with you. I am just out to expose the errors in the system.
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