I’ve been thinking about dying lately. No, I’m not terminally ill or anything, but still… with reports about California’s assisted suicide law having gone in to effect, my mind has gone into overdrive.
A few days ago, the Daily Mail ran this story about a woman who, at 41, became one of the first Californians to take advantage of the state’s new doctor-assisted suicide law. I’m not sure if “take advantage” is the correct term for this. As someone who loves life, it’s hard for me to imagine making the choice that Betsy Davis did.
In early July, Betsy Davis emailed her closest friends and relatives to invite them to a two-day party, telling them: ‘These circumstances are unlike any party you have attended before, requiring emotional stamina, centeredness and openness.’
And just one rule: No crying in front of her.
The 41-year-old artist with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, held the gathering to say goodbye before becoming one of the first Californians to take a lethal dose of drugs under the state’s new doctor-assisted suicide law for the terminally ill.
After the party, Davis took a cocktail of drugs and peacefully slipped away with her loved ones and her doctor and massage therapist at her side.
To me, a healthy person reading this account, it’s unthinkable. I cannot imagine the kind of pain you have to be suffering all the time in order to want to end your life! I wuss out and cry when my leg hurts for a few hours. The thought of suffering interminable torture 24/7 is horrifying!
But maybe that’s why Davis’ story resonates with me to such a degree. I cannot imagine the type of hell she’s been living in, unable to brush her teeth or even scratch an itch, and in constant pain, and I cannot imagine passing judgment on another person’s suffering, or how much of that anguish a person can tolerate. It boggles my mind that California had to pass a law to allow doctors to alleviate their patients’ suffering! I would have thought that this would be common sense.
That’s why I also don’t understand people who are so fucking selfish that they would pressure a loved one to prolong their agony, so that they could feel better about having them around!
Wesley J. Smith writes in a National Review Online article, “Would Davis have hesitated–delayed or changed her mind, perhaps–if enough of her friends and loved ones had said, ‘No, I won’t attend a party as prelude to your suicide, but I promise I will be with you until your natural end and do everything I can to make that a worthwhile time?‘”
How dare you! How dare you suggest that somehow Davis’ physical agony should take a backseat to “friends and loved ones'” desire to keep her around? How dare you advocate that people encourage their loved ones to continue suffering on their behalf? Unless you’re a wizard who can remove her pain, I doubt there’s anything you can do to make that “a worthwhile time,” you dick nozzle! Pressuring individuals living in perpetual pain, with no hope of survival, and only a long, painful road to death remaining when they have made a decision to go on their terms, only benefits those who will miss the afflicted individual once they are gone. How disgusting that some would want to pressure suffering people to stick around a few months, merely because they aren’t ready to let them go yet!
This woman went peacefully to sleep, watching the sunset, after celebrating her life with her friends and loved ones. She went on her own terms. She made the choice not to live in the hell that was her body any longer. She went with grace and dignity, not screaming in agony and unable to draw breath. Her doctor helped release her from her pain.
And jerks such as Smith have the unmitigated gall to claim every one of her friends who attended the party to say goodbye to someone they cared about and to support her in her choice to end her pain is held morally responsible for her death? What a repulsive attitude!
The illness is responsible for her death.
The illness robbed her of her body, trapping her in pain, and bringing untold suffering.
The illness is the evil here – not the people who supported their beloved friend in what must have been an agonizing decision!
And this Smith asshole has the balls to claim they should have pressured her to suffer longer?
What the fuck kind of people do that?
Don’t attend the party if you don’t feel comfortable, or if you’re too devastated at the loss of your friend. It’s understandable. Celebrate her life instead – in your own way, if you need to.
It’s your choice and your right, just as it is her choice and her right to decide when she’s had enough pain and suffering. Respect that.
But ferfuckssake, don’t be so callous as to try and force her to prolong her agony just because you’re too selfish to let her go!