Posted by: malcolmjamesjwells | 22/10/2015

To die with dignity

Why do some people support medicinal cannabis for those in pain; but baulk at the idea of easing the suffering of the terminally ill? When the quality of life is so poor that one would rather exit with dignity, where is the harm?

Of course there should be rigid guideline governing such actions, but it is the humane and decent thing to do.

The father I had grown up with died ten years before his body finally gave up. He had always been a hard-working man devoted to his wife and children. When mum died he became a shadow if his former self, declining further as dementia took hold. When I returned to England to share his final few days I saw a man so thin and frail I barely recognized him. He never woke up during my visits to his bedside, his hands kept clenching and unclenching in pain. Even if he had woken I was informed he would not have known me; he didn’t even know my sister and brothers who had been visiting him regularly.

I know only too well how hard it is to say goodbye to a loved one, but we must look at our motives for wanting to cling on to someone who is dying in this way. So many times we hear a grieving partner say “What am I going to do without him/her”? When dad died there were tears of course; but my siblings and I all agreed it was good that he was no longer suffering.

Towards the end of his life his soul had gone, leaving a pain-wracked shell. Each day the amount of morphine being pumped into this frail body was increased to dull the suffering. Surely the decent thing to do would have been to administer one last lethal injection when there is no quality to life. He was in no way to make such a decision for himself, but as someone who knew him well for sixty three years I am damned sure he would not have wanted to end his life this way.

Even when terminally ill patients are still lucid and in control of their faculties they sometimes feel that the quality of their existence is so diminished that they would like to draw a line under their life and move on. Yet they are not allowed to legally make that decision themselves and often resort to methods that make criminals of themselves and anyone who assists them.

We do not allow animals to suffer so why aren’t people shown the same compassion?

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