Friends of the Richelieu. A river. A passion.

"Tout cedit pays est fort uny, remply de forests, vignes & noyers. Aucuns Chrestiens n'estoient encores parvenus jusques en cedit lieu, que nous, qui eusmes assez de peine à monter le riviere à la rame. " Samuel de Champlain

"All this region is very level and full of forests, vines and butternut trees. No Christian has ever visited this land and we had all the misery of the world trying to paddle the river upstream." Samuel de Champlain

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Physician assisted dying or euthanasia

I can only look at the discussion on "physician assisted dying" or euthanasia from my mother's point of view. My mother saw her younger sister lose her mind and control of her body because of Alzheimer's and was horrified by it.

When my mother realized she was starting to have symptoms of Alzheimer's, she wanted to kill herself. She was scared of dying but she was even more scared of loosing her independence, her life in the brand new little house she had built for herself, and especially did not want to end up in a palliative care residence. And most of all, she did not want me to bear the burden of having to make all those decisions for her and worrying about her, for after all, I was the only family she had left.

My mother admitted to me, crying bitterly as she did so, that she did try to kill herself many times, but had lost her nerve. She could not bring herself to throw herself in the rough rapids of the river, even though she did not want to continue living with Alzheimer's either. She then described to me what was going on in her mind: it was a confusing mess of noise and movement that was scary and hypnotizing at the same time. It was hard for her to fight and not let herself fall into the confusion, but she resisted the temptation to let go. Obviously, it made her very mad and tense.

With Quebec's new law on assisted dying, my mother would not have been able to ask a doctor to help her die because she did not have all her wits about her all the time. But if the discussion had been started decades ago, perhaps the laws and society would have made it possible for her to end her life in a dignified way before dementia turned her brain to mush and her body a shell of her former self.

Between the time my mother told me she wanted to kill herself and her death, 14 years will have passed.

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