Assisted death — yes

Charles Cowling

Spool on to 8 mins 50 secs to hear the testimony of a young man dying of bone cancer. Remarkable. 

6 thoughts on “Assisted death — yes

  1. Charles Cowling

    Richard, I totally agree. These two videos are both in the No to assisted suicide camp. I’m interested in the reality of assisted suicide and the reasoning behind the desire to have some sort of plan in place even if it’s never implemented. Apart from my dear old Dad, who I believe made a mental decision to die, and succeeded unassisted within a few days – I have spend time with a friend who was dying in great pain and asking for a gun ( even though he had enough morphine based painkillers in the house to do the deed if he wanted to) and have another friend with a degenerative disease who also wants the means to commit suicide if this or that stage is reached, but redraws the boundary further away each time herself. Longing to be Masters and Mistresses of their fates?

    We are just not very good in our current healthcare system at letting/allowing people to die in their own time. Wanting “to die when it feels right to die” as opposed to wanting ” to die when it feels right to be assisted to die” are very different positions. As you say it’s all a question of proportionate and disproportionate treatment and perhaps attitudes, but preceding all this must be much more honest discussion amongst patient, family, professionals….. and even bloggers.

    Charles Cowling
  2. Charles Cowling
    Richard Rawlinson

    Hi Evelyn, you express absolute sensitivity to both sides of this complex issue but the two examples really are not a yes and no to assisted suicide. the so-called yes blog/video is as strong an argument against as Pitcher’s story about his mother and the nurse. To use Jip’s story for the assisted death cause is far-fetched at best. He mentions he likes the option but that really is not endorsement. He most certainly is testimony to turning suffering into a positive human experience. He therefore supports the no argument by his example.

    Charles Cowling
  3. Charles Cowling

    I was moved by both posts, watching the ‘no’ first and thinking I agreed with the sentiments raised. Then I watched the ‘yes’ and found myself thinking ‘ I hope no one missed this remarkable young man’s final 15 minutes of potential.’

    In my limited experience I have found that patients just want the security (?) of feeling that they have an escape route under their own control, and that they want all those round them to know just how desperate/afraid/ calm they feel about this dying process. It seems to me it’s a question of understanding/ connection/acceptance . How odd is it when you are dying to ask for a suicide pill, as my father did, every single time he saw anyone from the medical profession near his bed? They all, to a man, smiled, embarrassed, and asked him ‘on a scale of 1-10 how bad is your pain right now?’ Ticked the box on their sheet of paper. It was ludicrous.

    I was thinking up ways to give him his ‘wish’- when he turned his weary head and said quietly, ‘ I wouldn’t use it, you know,’ he just wanted them ( and me) to understand.

    I think we all, in our life, or our death, crave recognition, the feeling that we are truly there and that those around us are with us on the same level and space, wherever we are in our own heads. It doesn’t often happen!

    So the ‘no’ film had the nurse truly ‘with’ the patient, whilst her son wasn’t. The second had a young man truly ‘with’ himself ( like Philip Gould) in the death zone and undoubtedly he was teaching all those round him the true dignity of dying.

    Charles Cowling
  4. Charles Cowling
    Richard Rawlinson

    Hi Charles, many thanks for posting this video. Whatever we get from it, we all agree Jip is a remarkable and inspirational young man.

    Charles Cowling
  5. Charles Cowling

    I’m glad you watched this and enjoyed it, Richard. I was aware as I posted this morning’s crop that it failed the light ent test, for which of course I make no apology whatever.

    What I thought remarkable was the way that Jip regarded euthanasia as a normal and unremarkable event, and the way he regarded being able to direct his own end as being perfectly normal. He’s not campaigning for the right to die because it’s campaign over, over there. Euthanasia is normal in Holland. It’s a little known fact that most people there die on Fridays – so that doctors and careers can get the weekend off.

    What perhaps does not come out in this film is how Jip achieved the courage to face his end with such equanimity – and that extraordinary smile. He has alchemised his suffering and fear in a most remarkable way. I don’t know that I shall when the time comes.

    Charles Cowling
  6. Charles Cowling
    Richard Rawlinson

    On the blog below, George Pitcher gives a moving explanation about why the nurse was right to resist his wish to hasten his mother’s death with a morphine overdose.

    Jip, the young man dying of bone cancer here, makes a similarly strong case, not for assisted death, but also for defending the living from the assisted death movement.

    Jip is indeed a great ambassador for patient empowerment but not for assisted death. While demonstrating bravery and love for life, he briefly mentions how he would also like to decide when it feels right to die. He does not say this desire to hasten death is an inevitability, and I hope he didn’t feel it when his life was drawing to a close.

    His inspirational interviews are simply not a campaign for assisted death. What he does show is how treatment cannot be evaluated without reference to the patient. Technology is at the service of the total well-being of the person, and there needs to be more discussion about the terms proportionate and disproportionate means of treatment. Those of us who oppose assisted death are not obliged to support disproportionate means to maintain life.

    Jip shows that facing death can be a time of despair but also a time of spiritual fulfillment. He seems to intuitively understand that no amount of medical intervention can replace the love that a person needs in the hour of death. While opining the fact the doctors in his country are not holistic enough in their approach to preserving life, Jip does not seriously question a doctor’s obligation to maintain life and relieve pain.

    Too much debate fails to distinguish between pain and suffering. Suffering is more profound than physical pain. Jips shows that suffering can be an expression of one’s love.

    Charles Cowling

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