Seeing it through

Charles 5 Comments

In the summer edition of the Oldie magazine (strapline: ‘Everybody buys it eventually’), Mavis Nicholson discusses the case for the ‘right to die’. She says:

I had a conversation with an even more elderly chap than me, a GP all his working life, who was in very bad shape. He said he thought it was too potentially dangerous to allow people to choose their death or for relatives to have a say in the matter — or doctors and nurses for that matter. “It’s not that I don’t trust people,” he told me. “On the whole I do, though I think I am pretty wily and watchful as well.” No, he thought we should see it through to the end. “That’s what I have done in my family affairs,” he said “through all the trials and tribulations there have been in that quarter. I fought in the last war and saw that through with gritted teeth, I must admit. My job has been very full on, but in the end I am glad I have seen my way through the undergrowth and found life’s clearings, you might say. And I’ll see myself into the final clearing, I hope.”


  1. Charles

    This seems a rather strange contribution to the debate, especially as it’s based on the views of a doctor. He says that he wants his life to go on ‘through to the end’ rather as he saw the war out through to the end.
    The analogy is deeply flawed…we went on to win the war and life continued, much improved without the fear of further military conflict.
    Death, however, cannot be defeated. And the ending can, for some, be a terrible experience as he should know. If the GP is arguing for as much intervention as possible to prolong life, he’s going against the opinions of many medics.

  2. Charles

    Although he is also, as far as I can see, expressing his personal opinion of what he wants for himself…which he has a perfect right to do. How well that maps onto the wishes or experiences of others is a totally different issue.

  3. Charles

    My creaking, pain-riddled mother-in law reckons that old age and all that comes with it is not for the faint hearted. She’s ready but her body isn’t. However, her religious beliefs prevent her from doing what she wants to do.

    If that’s what this man wants, that’s fine, but I have made it clear to all around me that I don’t want to join in that particular life challenge. I see no benefits in it and no glory to be gained from it. I just need to find out which type of medication is the best and how much to take – that’s my old age challenge.

  4. Charles

    I didn’t understand that he was wishing to artificially prolong his life at any cost, rather that unexpected grace and peace can be found in letting go into all of life’s experiences, perhaps even pain and death, when we choose to experience them rather than try to avoid them. I think it’s a really important point because it asks us to question how we evaluate or measure ‘quality of life’ and once again it seems it is a very individual thing. This man seems to be saying life can have huge value even when it seems all hope is lost.

  5. Charles

    Georgina, that’s really insightful. Thank you. It objectifies what I felt when I read this for the first time. I believe that Victorian nannies used to instil the Right Stuff in their posh little charges by reminding them ‘What cannot be cured must be endured.’

    There’s something very admirable about the idea of ‘seeing it through’. Also, his example — which I shall probably not follow, to tell truth.

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