Choosing When to Die

I suppose it’s human nature to avoid thinking about death. I strive not to take my health, my loved ones, and all of the numerous things I enjoy for granted, but if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit to slipping in and out of “life is fragile, don’t take it for granted, make the most of the present” consciousness. I turned 48 a few weeks ago which means I’m almost certainly on the back nine.

Tuesday’s Frontline Film was titled “The Suicide Tourist“. I found it engaging and provocative. This paragraph is from an interview with Mary Ewert, the wife of Craig Ewert who has A.L.S. and in the film travels from Chicago to Switzerland to end his life. Mr. Minelli is the founder of Digitas, the Swiss organization that has helped 1,000 people end their life.

“Mr. Minelli and Craig take a matter-of-fact view of death — we all will die some day. They are able to reflect on how people, including themselves, die. In contrast, our society places an inordinate emphasis on the emotional aspect of dying, urging patients to fight death, to be brave warriors in the face of death. The decision to quietly, gracefully accept and welcome death is at odds with the emotional battle against death. Both are ways of dealing with death, one is not better than the other. However, both approaches should be respected. I fear that acceptance of death is still viewed as somehow bizarre and frightening, something to be forbidden.”

I went into the film without having given much thought to the website’s follow up discussion question: Is Craig Ewert’s decision to end his life a choice that everyone should have? Having watched the film, I’m inclined to answer in the affirmative. Now I think I’ll skim the online discussion and see what others think. How about you?