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Dying with Dignity

Views 105 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 11 - 11 - 2014 | By: Molly Wilcox

“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.”

Brittany Maynard chose this quote for the opening statement of her obituary, and in my opinion, rightly so. During the course of her 29-year life, she traveled to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore and Thailand, taught in Kathmandu, took ice-climbing courses in Ecuador, and went scuba diving in Zanzibar, Caymans and the Galapagos Islands.

Many people have been criticizing Maynard’s decision to choose when and how she died, instead of suffering and putting her family in the position of caretakers. I want to take both sides into consideration:

Although her life was full of adventure, love, and travel, the inevitable reality of a terminal illness crept into her story nonetheless. As many of us probably know from the hundreds of videos and articles floating around Facebook, Maynard and her husband moved to Oregon—one of five states that authorize death with dignity— to live out her last days of health and ultimately end her life.

According to Maynard’s website, entitled ‘The Brittany Fund,’ “Death with dignity is an option every person deserves to reduce suffering at the end of life and die in comfort and control, with dignity.”

I think the subject of death can hit us close to home in many ways. Most of us have lost loved ones, and some of us have even been there to watch them suffer in their last few days of life. But in other ways, death seems like a far-off— almost ignored— topic. We are twenty-somethings living in fear of paying off debts, and not concentrating on our life ending anytime soon.

So let me pose this question: if you just found out you had six months to live, and the end would be painful and long, would you take the time to say goodbye to family and friends, let them remember you happy, and die? Maybe. Maybe not.

What if the person you love most in this world was given six months to live with heavy suffering towards the end. Would you support his or her decision in the right to choose their ending?

Now, I feel like I don’t have a choice to ignore my Christian instincts and bring faith into the equation. I believe God doesn’t want us to suffer a long and painful death, but I also believe God can still do incredible things in the midst of suffering.

Part of me would want to go ahead and kick the bucket, but in all honesty, I don’t think I could choose it. But that being said, I don’t think Maynard chose selfishly. If anything, she was being selfless.

I think the most important thing to take away from this is to learn from the people in this world who are currently suffering, hearing their perspectives, their wishes and standing alongside them to listen in their final moments.


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