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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Is it a Crime to Die?

 I came across an article (click here to read it) that really moved me and I wanted to share it with you.  The article is about a recently married young woman (29 years old) who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness.  Rather than stay in California where laws would prevent her from choosing to die on her terms and die with dignity, she moved to Oregon where laws allowed her to have that option.

I have been thinking a lot about this as of lately.  My Grandmother has advanced alzheimer's.  It has been over eight years since I had an adult conversation with her.  It has been at least four since I was able to have a conversation with her that I might have with a four year old.

She is at the stage where she is wheel chair bound, in diapers, and drooling.  She barely opens her eyes nor raise her head.  She cannot speak but mumble an occasional word or two. 

My Grandma was the person who used to make you wash your hands before you ate because she was so meticulous about things being clean and sanitary. My Grandma was a proper lady who would be appalled to have a conversation about pooping.

I wonder if my Grandma knew the fate that was in store for her, would she have taken steps to prevent it. If my Grandma had been given an opportunity to die with dignity, would she have taken it?

I would.

 The experience has been heartbreaking for me.  I struggle with seeing her now because the images of today are over taking my memories of her... I do not want to remember her this way so I do my best to try and remember her how she was.

Watching her pain and the sadness it brings to my family I feel completely certain that if I ever faced a similar situation I would take measures to end my life on my own terms.

Would you?

My question to you is this: when facing a terminal illness, one that will induce great suffering and rob you of the essence that is you, is it a crime to choose to end your life vs face that fate?

I am looking forward to reading your thoughts.

Carpe Diem,



  1. I believe it should be a personal choice on how we die, especially in certain circumstances. I am an atheist so I do not feel bound by religious codes regarding life and death: as a humanist I believe that everyone should be allowed to follow their own path in life as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others (along with the the general rules of society that should apply: be kind, help others, work hard etc). If someone is facing a long, slow and painful death they should absolutely have the choice to end it before they reach this stage. I guess the most controversy comes in when a person loses the ability to action their own choices and it falls on someone else to "make the call". I am sorry about your Grandma Jesse: I hope the good memories you have of her become the ones that are the strongest for you. I watched my brother pass away from cancer and now, 7 years later, I think more on his life before he got sick, and they are happy memories. A good quote I like to remember (from Samuel Johnson): it matters not how a person dies, but how he lives.

  2. I'm working in the medical field and I can tell you this, most doctors are terribly afraid of death and they do not want to be faced with it, or talk about it or help dying people trough the process. It's generally accepted to act as if we would live forever and we often don't want people to remind us we don't. And people like this 29 year old woman remember us of this and of the fact that there should be an open discussion about your rights at the end of your life. From a materialistic point of view it's rather stupid to end your life even one second before it's necessary, simply because the body is all there is and the only way to exist. But if we think of death as a transition a whole lot of other ideas can come up, and of course also how to make a transition with dignity and by your own (holy) choice ;)

  3. Thank you @AJ KC and @Aleyna Krestor for your thoughts and insights. Very valuable points and feedback.