I held my mother's hand as she took her last breath in our family room in 1988 after a courageous and difficult nine-month battle with colon cancer. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't easy. She was only 47 years old and I'm still not sure what was worse -- the chemo or the cancer. She suffered. We suffered less, but we still suffered as we watched her die. And yet, her death was one of the most powerful experiences of my life, right up there with the birth of my children. To watch as she held on to life, fighting -- literally -- for every breath at the end was spiritual, awesome, sorrowful and life-changing. Even in her suffering, she did not want to leave us, even as we told her she could go.
So when I read about people choosing assisted suicide over a terminal illness, or, even worse, loneliness, I want to cry or scream or both. Renee Schafer Horton has an excellent piece on the frightening progress of the assisted suicide movement over on God Blogging today. Using her own family perspective as a backdrop, she drives home the point that this dangerous attitude -- that we should be able to choose our time of death based on increasingly less tragic circumstances -- has to be shifted before it's too late.
"The debate over health care reform is raging and while nothing new will come too soon, one of the scariest things I heard President Obama say in his discussions of the need for reform was that the elderly and those near the end of life account for “potentially 80 percent” of the total health care bill for the nation. OK, so what? Is my father in law’s life worth less than mine? Less than my son’s? Who gets to choose? And will there be pressure, ever so subtle (one imagines ads on TVs played in all the retirement villages across the country with a pleasant voice cooing about the benefits of no more suffering), for the elderly, the infirm, the disabled, to make life easier on the healthy, the young, the able-bodied by visiting their neighborhood “kill-me-now” center?"Go read the blog post in its entirety by clicking HERE.