From now on, I’ll try to post a warning when I’m talking about something that might be some kind of trigger for you or there might be a controversial issue. Today’s post is my opinion on something I know is a hot button for a lot of people, especially in the disability community. It’s something I’ve considered over the years, so it belongs somewhere in this.
I’ve read several books lately dealing with people who have a terminal illness and who wish to die “on their own terms” or “with dignity” or several other euphemisms that set many people’s teeth on edge and make them react in ways that don’t take into account that this is an individual choice that doesn’t have to affect anybody but the person who chooses it and their family.
I guess I have the same opinion about “death with dignity” that I have about abortion. I’ve always said that it’s a choice that I personally could never imagine making, but I still believe that people should have the right to do what they choose. I can’t expect others to abide by my belief system, so I don’t know if you could call me pro-life or pro-choice in the narrow definitions of each.
When you talk about someone making a choice to “die with dignity,” they’re usually making a decision based on their own experience and desire to live. I don’t know their state of mind, so I don’t feel qualified to judge their actions.
I guess I decided to write about this because there have been times I’ve felt like ending it all. It wasn’t physical pain–it was emotional. I didn’t succeed in doing it, because I believe on some level I didn’t want to. Now that my body has turned against me in some ways, I don’t want to end my life–I want to find a way to improve the quality of it. In spite of everything, I’m here and want to make my life worth living and make some kind of difference.
Even people who have said in the past, “I wouldn’t want to live like that,” might change their minds when faced with the question. However, if they make the decision and can express that when they are in charge of themselves, I believe that request should be honored. I don’t know how I’ll feel when that time comes. I hope I’ll be surrounded by people who know me and understand my choices. I want respect, so how can I offer less than that to someone when I have no idea what they’re going through in body and mind?
I hope that what I’ve said will make you consider the issue. This isn’t an easy topic to think or talk about. I will return to our regularly scheduled storytelling tomorrow (I hope). Please remember to put yourself in someone else’s shoes at least once a day. Think creatively and outside the box on the issues that strike a sore spot in your heart.