Death with Dignity : Assisted Suicide of Brittany Maynard

By on November 4, 2014
Death with dignity

Death with dignity means different things to many people. The recent assisted suicide of Brittany Maynard has sparked lots of debate on a very serious issue, assisted suicide.

First, it is important to understand that I am a registered nurse with over 40 years experience.  I lost my oldest son, a disabled soldier to suicide. The loss of my son has forever changed me. My son suffered from a severe pain condition, known as Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome.  This is a severe and debilitating progressive condition. He lived with this condition for 8 years. He was 35 years old when he decided to take his own life.

Brittany Maynard was diagnosed with a terminal condition that caused her severe headaches, seizures and deformity.   I am an advocate for hospice, but I also know as a health care provider, that there are times, when hospice is not able to alleviate the pain or anxiety of the dying patient.

While the death of this young woman saddens me, I, personally understand her views. I also think that she has sparked a conversation that is necessary for everyone to have: End of life issues and planning.

We are a society that has a fear of dying. Many go to great lengths to extend their lives, but, hospice, palliative care and assisted suicide are not often discussed.

The CNN.com article quotes  Brittany Maynard,  “Having this choice at the end of my life has become incredibly important. It has given me a sense of peace during a tumultuous time that otherwise would be dominated by fear, uncertainty and pain.
Now, I’m able to move forward in my remaining days or weeks I have on this beautiful Earth, to seek joy and love and to spend time traveling to outdoor wonders of nature with those I love. And I know that I have a safety net.”

Caregiver stress statisticsI feel hospice care is a solution to end of life care. The principles of hospice are to ease the process of dying:to relieve  physical pain, and preserve the dignity of the individual, as well as respect the psychological and spiritual aspects of death. Studies show that individuals that an individual on hospice actual lives a month longer than those that did not receive hospice care.

As a nation we must address end of life issues.  We have a growing crisis in this country, there is a death by suicide every hour and half in the elderly. Would assisted suicide change those numbers?

Here is a link to Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act

 

 

Please share your thoughts and feelings about assisted suicide, or end of life issues.

Now is your chance to have your say. Share your unique point of view!

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