If you’ve been on the internet lately you have probably heard about the story of Brittney Maynard. To summarize she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and has been given months to live. So she decided to move to Oregon where assisted suicide is legal and end her life on Nov 1. I was reluctant to wade into this topic until someone brought up the Matt Walsh response to the situation (which I will not link to because I can’t stand him). The person I was speaking to was somewhat surprised by my strong opinion against Matt Walsh and how the situation was none of his freaking business.
Because I am religious I think that most people would assume I’m on the side of Matt Walsh, that assisted suicide is a completely selfish decision and that only terrible people would consider the option. And that people who commit suicide will all go to Hell.
I am not.
I remember writing an opinion essay for my high school government class against assisted suicide. After the class turned in the essays our teacher then informed us that we would write an essay on the same topic on the other side of the issue. I thought that was just evil manipulative torture at the time, but I am grateful for a wise teacher who knew that these kinds of topics are not always strictly right vs wrong. What I learned from that experience is that assisted suicide is an ugly and complicated topic. Dying is often a very painful, very long, and very expensive process. Not only can it be horrible for the patient it can be horrible for people they love. A friend of mine recently watched a loved one die from a brain tumor. In the months before he died he become a totally different person. He became mean, aggressive, and hostile and then he was in so much pain he begged over and over for them to kill him. The last few months of his life were so horrible his family was relieved to see him die and then they had to deal with the guilt for being relieved.
If there is one thing that having a chronic illness has taught me is that I can only make decisions for myself and I can’t force my ideas on others. It has also taught me that illness involves a lot of suffering that no healthy person can understand. Would I commit suicide if I had a terminal diagnosis? No. I am way too stubborn and would probably fight till my very last breath. Do I think Brittney is an evil person and damned to Hell for choosing to do it? No I absolutely do not. Do I agree with her decision? It doesn’t matter, it’s her life not mine.