What’s that you say Doctor? I’ve got cancer… That doesn’t sound good, and by the way that you’re telling me, it’s probably worse than that. Well, I knew that this day was coming… Doctor? I don’t know why, but I’m not as upset by this news as I thought I would be – but I do know one thing, I don’t want it to hurt.
What will “Fred” choose to do? What is Fred allowed to do? Fred had his mind wrapped around the idea of his death years ago, but who can be completely ready for the moment when we hear the news that our life will be over soon? In our existence, what greater event besides birth can compete with death? Most of us have pondered the circumstances of our own death, what we’d do, and how we would deal with it. As we grow older, the weight of these musings become more significant, and the plans become more detailed, serious, or urgent. Fred has given a great deal of thought to the choices to be made before this monumental event arrives, and maybe this is why he seems so at peace with his demise. He is 83 years old, and has made all of the preparations for his death. He’s kept his will in order. His financial papers are in the hands of a trusted power of attorney. His funeral is paid for. He has a medical power of attorney and a doctor that fully understands his final wishes and has documented them… including a death with dignity arrangement.
Fred has a family history of Alzheimer’s disease, and he watched his mother waste away in body and mind. This was heart-breaking for all who witnessed her lingering and emotionally agonizing death, and he was surprised to learn that his end would be different. However, this changed nothing, his plans remained in place, and nothing would be altered.
As the cancer progressed, Fred was blessed with several months of time with all of his loving family members. They knew of Fred’s decision to secure the option of ending his life early if the pain associated with the cancer became unbearable. His children chose to help Fred administer the chemical mixture that would end his life – all but one. One of Fred’s sons was shocked to learn that he had chosen to end his life early. “Kevin” never believed that Fred would carry out such an offensive means to his own end, and quickly became angry about his father’s decision.
In spite of Fred’s reassurances and his sibling’s explanations, Kevin still felt frightened for his father’s future and made the decision to fight Fred’s choice in court. In spite of...