Thursday, November 11, 2010

On Death and Dying

My father in law passed away on Saturday, November 6th. He had a stroke on October 5th and had been suffering for the past month so his death was a relief.

I remember when my father was dying I was shocked by the pure agony he had to go through before he died. The sense of total helplessness I felt to make his leaving easier for him. The desperate prayers that God would take him - would release him from the cancer that was so incredibly devastating.

If we had an animal in the condition that my father or my father in law were in we would put him to sleep. We would end the suffering humanely. Not only WOULD we do it, we would be EXPECTED to do it. We would be considered "humane" and "kind".

Yet we have to sit by the bedside of a human being and just let them linger in their pain, in their desperation to die. The fact that humane treatment is expected and demanded for an animal yet "unacceptable" for a human being just blows my mind.

Euthanasia is criticized as "murder" or "suicide". I have to believe that those who feel this way - who believe that euthanasia is wrong - have never held the hand of their father while he fought for a breath; while the pain was so all consuming he almost loses consciousness. I have to believe that those opposed to euthanasia have never sat in a dark room for days on end listening to the "rattling" of death - the unforgettable horror of listening to someone you love die.

Euthanasia should be a choice made by those that are dying; respected by those that are living and promoted by those that are alive today - because one day it may be you who lays in that bed asking someone - anyone - to end your pain.


  1. I'm so sorry you had to endure this, Elena. Not once but twice. It's unthinkable.

    It sounds like there is some pain that cannot be managed with any amount of pain killers, and that must be what you are describing. I didn't know such a pain existed until I read your post. Too often we don't know such a thing exists until we experience it first hand. I didn't know so many people die from Hospital-acquired staph infections either, until I lost BOTH my parents to it (at different times).

    I agree with what you've said.

  2. Elena
    Please know that you are in the hearts and minds of many people in your time of sorrow.
    There are no words that make this process any easier.

  3. AMEN!!!!

    I am so sorry to hear about the suffering that your father and your father in law went through. I can only hope that your presence di offer some small touch of comfort in those darkest hours, and that where they are now, they are looking fondly upon you for your selfless devotion. You are a good person, the kind that the rest of us hold as a gold standard.

  4. My deepest sympathies to you, my friend, and to the entire family.
    It has been extremely difficult on you (all), but know that his pain and suffering is over, and that he is in a better place.