Category Archives: Ethics

This is More Water

There was a rider attached to yesterday’s post, which I did not write.

It is this. Ending one’s life for incessant mental pain would perhaps seem to be no more or less valid than ending it because some other physical disease has eroded quality of life to the point where the future trajectory is adjudged to be only downwards.

I do believe however that there are two differences: the possibility of renewed hope, or its medically verified absence; and the openness, or otherwise, of the method.

I watched my grandmother die, and, although I question the events leading up to her death, it was as they say, a process. It was not brought on violently, or suddenly, by accident or on purpose. It did not traumatise any relatives or friends any more than it rightfully should have. We were left with a few questions surrounding the medical circumstances that eventually led to her slipping away quietly, but these were not unanswerable. We were not left with a burden to carry. In March, my grandpa’s youngest sister, the last of my paternal grandparent’s generation decided that her quality of life had reached its nadir. She took to her bed and refused food, until she died ten days later. Her family mourned, but we also understood and respected her decision.

Perhaps we humans should have the right to die when we can no longer go on, but as adults we have a responsibility to approach it ethically, as a process, in which the feelings and rights of others have a place, and a voice, which in turn may offer reasonably solid ground on which to stand when it is all over.

Whilst thinking about these issues, I read this article about the Swiss clinic Dignitas, which clarified its approach, particularly in regard to those people who are in sustained mental pain and anguish.