A growing number of us believe that death, when the time is right for us, should be comfortably in our hands, not in the hands of doctors or lawyers, priests or politicians. We want to be able to end our own lives, in our homes, at a time of our choosing, without society putting its collective panties in a twist that our thoughtful personal choice is sort of an affront to – and I stumble. here – an affront to what? To the way things are Assumed to be? If we are meant to be anything, we are meant to live in small flocks hunting and gathering and dying long before the age of 30. Let’s get rid of the fanciful imaginations of what is meant to be and instead consider what makes sense.
Let us also renounce any romantic notion of a natural death. We have always done everything in our power to fight against death at the hands of nature. I had severe pneumonia as a newborn baby and spent days in an oxygen tent. It would have been my natural death. I went back there in my twenties with a climbing accident which, without medical intervention, would have killed me. Whichever path to death I take, it’s far too late for it to be natural. On a less philosophical level, is life or death natural if you have medications that support your circulation? Or oxygen supplementing your breathing? A pacemaker guiding your heart? A caregiver puts applesauce in your mouth because you don’t know how to eat?
The vast majority of us come to a point of physical or mental weakening that we would never have reached had we lived and died naturally. The extra time to live is a wonderful gift of modern medicine, but does it cause us to suffer beyond the point of blessing, in indentured bondage to the medical establishment, to pay for this borrowed time? Do we then have to be cursed to endure exhausted, aching bodies or demented spirits as a kind of penance?
Our lives are complex sagas with many twists and turns, but they all have to come to an end. As anyone who has turned the last page of a gripping novel knows, the end counts. It matters deeply. No wonder, then, that so many of us want to be able to end our lives comfortably and safely, on our own terms, without having to turn to professionals of one sort or another who determine whether our personal values are worthy by their standards. , or whether our assessment of the remaining quality of our life can be measured by their yardstick, or whether our reasoning makes sense to them.
It is an unnecessary tragedy that those who want the opportunity to end their lives must plan in secret, stealthily researching behind closed doors, whispering goodbye only to loved ones (if anyone) in whom they have. most confidently, lest their careful consideration of a choice of honor might result in armed police arriving at their doorstep to send them to mental prison … followed by the very future they so desperately wanted to avoid.
It is time for society to provide the tools and legal protections to support those who want to be able to choose when and how their lives end. It is time for society to create new rituals and new traditions. We need new understandings and a supportive social framework, not only for those who consciously wish to end their lives, but also for those who love them. It is time for proudly and openly planned self-deliverance. Let us make the preparation for the end of life a time of encounter. A chosen death is an intimate occasion to share and celebrate the last chapter of life.