About Euthanasia?

Recently the New Zealand Parliament debated and the members had a conscience vote on whether to permit the practice of voluntary euthanasia. The outcome resulted in a narrow defeat. This means that things will stay the same – for the moment anyway.

The reason I want to talk about this is: Why does something that is inevitable for us all, with the only destination we all have in life being death, cause such a debate? In my opinion, it should not even require discussing whether anyone should have the right to terminate their time on this earth.

As a Registered Nurse, I have spent over 30 years caring for the elderly, young disabled and terminally ill. I believe that death is the most beautiful experience that I have had the privilege to witness. It is a time when people are at their most vulnerable, the dying and the bereaving, yet the joy of transcending for the person who is leaving this earth is a blessing. They have done all they need to do and it is time to leave.

So what is the actual issue about death, dying and euthanasia? Well, it comes down to the following:

For the person facing death

  • Fear of the unknown. What is ahead of them? What will happen to those who are left behind?
    For the people left behind
  • Fear of loss. What are they going to do when their loved one has gone? How are they going to manage?

When people are frightened, their body tenses up and their pain increases. When fear of dying is replaced with the gratitude of living – I have done all I need to do in this life and it is time for me to depart – then the joy of reaching our final destination can be celebrated.

So what needs to happen?

  • A shift in attitude away from the idea of death being a sad time, to the belief that it is a joyous occasion and one to be celebrated
  • An understanding that reaching the final destination is what we have been working towards all our life
  • A willingness to let go and revere that the final destination has been reached
    • for the person dying: know that those left behind will be okay, that perhaps it is only the suitcase that is going and the soul will live on in the hearts of those you love
    • for those left behind: be grateful you have had the person in your life, that you have had the opportunity to experience love through them

I have only briefly touched on the whole subject, but my personal belief is that no one has the right to prematurely end a life because of a perception of suffering. If a relative is suffering, be open to the possibility that maybe it is you that is suffering more, and they are reluctant to let go because of your pain.

The greatest gift that can be given a person who is dying is love and freedom. Freedom to go when they choose; not hold them back because of your grief.

So what does this have to do with wellness? Well a healthy attitude to death will ensure a healthy mind. When your mind is healthy, it will impact on your healing and you will recover more easily. I am not saying that you won’t or shouldn’t grieve the loss of your loved one. Of course you will, and so you should. The gap they leave behind will take some adjustment, but the legacy they leave behind will last forever in your heart and mind -- and no one can ever take that away from you. Their legacy is special. Treasure it. Treasure every moment you have and have had with your loved one. The length of time you spend with them has been created for you to say goodbye, to reflect, to remember, to love, to laugh and, yes, to enjoy. All it takes is the realization that the loss you are feeling should not prevent the other person from willingly and joyously leaving this earth.

Is euthanasia an option? My opinion: No.
All it takes is a change in attitude and understanding.



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