Obviously this is a huge and problematic topic, and I’m not pretending that I have the definitive answer by any means, but I’ve been thinking about assisted suicide and Canada’s laws allowing it — although they use the much more palatable term “medical assistance in dying” or MAID. I know that there are those who argue that allowing people to choose to die encourages some (including the disabled, and the chronically depressed or mentally ill) to end their lives earlier than they perhaps should (Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and a number of other countries byalso allow physician-assisted suicide)
That said, however, as someone who has watched a loved one (my father) waste away slowly from a terrible illness with little to no chance of recovering to have a normal life (lung and throat cancer), I believe that offering MAD is the most humane thing we can do in a lot of circumstances. I was reminded of this after a memorial for an old friend who was also diagnosed with stage four cancer, and given little to no chance of survival.
Rather than go through the pain and suffering associated with chemotherapy, this friend decided to choose their own ending. Their children talked at the memorial about how touching and special it was to be able to spend one last evening with their father, having dinner, watching old movies, and talking about the good times, before saying goodbye for the last time. It sounded like a pretty wonderful end to a life well lived.
Could this friend have survived and lived longer? Perhaps. It’s impossible to say. But what would his quality of life have been? Is it worth it to live longer, if you are in pain all the time, can’t eat or drinks, etc? I don’t think so. And I wish the option had been available when my father died, so that we could have had a last meal and watched movies and talked about the good old days. That sounds like a pretty good way to go, to me at least.