Few would trade places with 40-year-old Manieka Vervoort, Belgian Paralympian extraordinaire, gold and silver medallist in wheelchair racing. Living with unbroken, excruciating pains from an incurable degenerative spinal disease from childhood, she signed papers in 2008, which would allow doctors to end her life.
Choosing euthanasia gave her control over her life: ” p eople don’t have to die in pain. They can choose a moment. You are sure you will have a soft, beautiful death”.
She had accepted that her time on e arth would be short, but she was determined to wring every last drop of pleasure out of it. Not for her was a long life of pain and debilitating disease. She chose quality, not quantity of life.
The moment came on October 22, 2019.
Euthanasia is not an option most of us would choose, but it does bring home the realisation that having control over our own death may offer some measure of peace of mind.
We all die; some only die better than others. Sure, we would want to die pain free, having emotional well-being, be with our family and friends. But is that all? If we lived well, wouldn’t we be less fearful of dying? Imagine you are on your deathbed sometime in the future, and you are asked: how would you live your life if you had to live it all over again? Your answers might be insightful in showing you what you should do NOW to make your life meaningful.
Religion (Christianity) claims to have the answers to a good death. If we live rightly, not necessarily ethically, we will go to a better place – heaven – and be with its gatekeeper, God. But God’s kindness apparently does not apply if you are a terminal patient suffering needlessly from cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, as most religious denominations do not allow euthanasia.
Euthanasia is prohibited. Assisted suicide is a sin, equally as wrong as murder, and suffering, especially during the last moments of life, has a special place in God’s saving plan – a sharing in Christ’s passion.
HOW DID YOU LIVE? The freethinker does not believe in a God who offers salvation. He believes that by understanding the world and ourselves, we can overcome the anxiety and fear of death. This is the only life you have, so live it to its fullest, avoid past nostalgia, remorse and guilt – those great spoilers of happiness – and when you embrace death, you will have fewer regrets. Life before death, not life after death.
Almost daily, we reconnect with our loved ones, fond memories of their lives and our sorrow at their passing. Did they attain the things in their lives worth attaining? Were their emotional and spiritual needs satisfied? Each person was special, with consciousness of self, an inner yearning for life. Each had a story to tell – a life fulfilled and perhaps a hero to his or her loved ones.
Death is often described as a dreamless sleep. Before we were born, there was a long time when we did not exist, and it didn’t bother us one bit. The same will be true after we are gone. The Epicurean writer, Lucretius, suggested picturing yourself at the point of death with two possibilities: either you have lived well, in which case you can go your way satisfied like a well-filled guest leaving a party; or you have not, but then it makes no difference that you are losing your life, since you obviously did not know what to do with it anyway.
Mark Twain agrees: ” a man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time”.
LINK ORIGINAL: Jamaica Gleaner