An opinion piece on religion and death, and the differing opinions on what constitutes death with dignity. Two parents, with opposing attitudes, indicate the personal side, beyond the more abstract discussions (which are of course necessary to get appropriate laws and regulations). Quote:
My understanding of selfishness, compassion, and justice differs fundamentally from that of the Cardinal. I cared for my mother and father at the end of their long lives and tried to help them fulfill their needs and desires, not my own. Both were mentally competent and their approaches to death were entirely consistent with their characters, and their approaches to life. My father wanted to fight, against all odds, and his doctor gave him every chance — increasing his morphine only at the end, when his suffering was pronounced. If I had urged her not to ease his pain, so that I might spend more time with him — that would have been supremely selfish.
My mother had been ill longer and while she enjoyed life despite some disability imposed by heart disease, at the end, when she crashed, she was more accepting of death. A very practical woman, she declined invasive procedures that could have prolonged her life. “What’s the point,” she said to her doctor a few days before she died. “I’d only have to go through this again.”