Good Christian Daughter Says We Want To Kill The Elderly

elderly euthanasia I have this relative. It’s a distant relation, through marriage, but I spent a lot of time with her as a kid. I even visited her as an adult, enjoying tea in her pristine white apartment overlooking the Beacon Hill Park in Victoria. She was interesting. She was never particularly cheerful, but she was interesting. Her husband died years and years and years ago.

In the last 10 years, she’s deteriorated to a hunched over sack of bones. She’s still interesting, but she’s miserable at the same time. She can’t get around; she can’t do anything herself. A once completely independent widower, who kept herself well fed, clothed and housed on her own for years, is now completely incapable of even brushing her teeth. She is all there, mentally, able to take in the degree to which she has disintegrated into a broken, nonfunctioning vegetable. She watches herself, fully aware, struggle with the most mundane tasks. Understandably, this has destroyed her emotionally.

A year ago, she asked a couple of my family members to kill her. Every last one of us wished we could have fulfilled her request without going to prison for murder. And so she sits, rotting away in a home, loathing every day, every hour, every minute of her existence. Time seems to slow as she watches her body reject her and she can’t even muster the strength to press the on button on the TV or lift a book to distract herself. We’ve forced this on her and no one can help her.

This morning I read a post on Patheos by Rebecca Hamilton, a Catholic blogger. She talked about her mother who is aging, slipping away and losing her memories. She lamented,

“Every time I write a post about Mama, a few sick souls comment that situations like this are a fine argument for euthanasia.”

I have no evidence to back this up, but I highly doubt those were the words the advocates for euthanasia used. She goes on,

“What is wrong with someone that they could look at a frail elderly person and their first thought is to kill them?”

Is that really what they’re saying, Rebecca? Or are they saying that in situations like these, the elderly and the family should be able to choose euthanasia, should they feel it’s the right option for them?

“I start stammering when I try to formulate a response to this. Kill my mother? That’s their advice?”

Again, I doubt that’s what they said. I think you’ve built yourself a straw man whose shoulder you can cry persecution on.

Advocates of euthanasia do not “look at an elderly person and their first thought is to kill them”. What happens instead, Rebecca, is that we look at the shell of a person, a small, tiny portion of who that person used to be and wonder, “Are they okay with the state of their life right now? Do they actually want to endure this deterioration?” If that answer to that is no – and of course, it differs for everyone – then euthanasia should be a totally legal option.

Who are we to look at someone who’s led a long, eventful life, who’s tired, over it, and miserable and say, “No. You must endure this”? And more importantly, why would we want to?

My own grandmother will be 98 this September. She’s the opposite of my other relative in that her body is just fine but her mind is completely gone. She has zero recollection of who she is, where she is and who she is related to. She doesn’t know me, or her 4 daughters or her son. She spends her days cooped up in an old folks home, just waiting for her body to catch up with her mind. She is not herself in any way. Some days she sits in the cafeteria and shouts (and she can shout) for pudding until it arrives. Other days she gets shushed by everyone as she sings out of tune at the top of her lungs. Every once in a while, she sits at the piano and plays part of a tune she once knew, only to forget it 30 seconds in.

I knew my grandma well when she was “with it”. My grandfather died in 1987 and since that time, she’s traveled the globe, started dating a multi-millionaire, and kept her apartment clean, her Cadillac Eldorado in perfect working order and and even found the time to cook me, my brother and my 7 cousins a meal from time to time. It wasn’t until just a few years ago, that her mind began to leave her.

She was proud and strong. She drove until my aunts physically removed her car from the grounds of her apartment. When others offered to drive, she would elbow them and pinch them and demand, “Get out of my goddamned car before I report it stolen!” until they did. She walked every day, had a beer or two on special occasions and at every family get together she would start dancing, draw everyone up to dance with her and then start poking them and elbowing them to get a rise out of them.

My cousins and I used to talk about her over beers at the pub, and we all agreed. She had all of our unending respect. If there was anyone we knew who could kick ass, it was Grandma.

If she had been made aware back then, that her mind would vacate her head and she wouldn’t even know who she was, she would have said, without a moments hesitation, “Well then, I suppose one of you is going to have to do me in!”.

Elderly euthanasiaShe would not have wanted to live this way. Her dignity, which she cherished, stripped from her. She would not have wanted this to be her life, and yet it is. The best we could do for her, is sign a do not resuscitate declaration on her behalf. Aside from that, there’s little we can do. She’s hemorrhaging the money she would have wanted to leave behind for her kids and grandkids, just to keep her alive through a life that is no longer hers.

She had 5 kids in 4 years, as she reminded us a million times over the years. She worked full-time with 5 kids. She took care of my dying grandfather, and then took care of her dying boyfriend. She played a huge role in the lives of her 9 grandkids and now we want to strip her of the right to end her life with her dignity in tact.

Not every situation is the same, Rebecca. Maybe your mother is someone who would have never wanted you to help her leave this world under any circumstances. Maybe her own dignity wasn’t as important to her as her faith in God was, but you have to understand, not everyone is that way. A good case for euthanasia means, if you can remove your own feelings from the equation, being as it’s not your life and you should have no authority over it, would your mother want this life she’s living now?

If the answer is yes, then no euthanasia supporter would suggest you “kill your mother”. Chances are though, the answer isn’t yes.

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  • Agreed. My parents are also burdened for caring for my 90 year old grandfather who lost his wife several years ago, and who is slipping away to Alzheimer’s. He needs assistance with almost everything, and spends most of the day feigning interest in the newspaper or staring at whatever happens to be on the TV. Existence for the sake of existence is absurd. Existence just to suffer is even worse. There are fates worse than death.

    This impacts not only the person who is simply waiting to die, but many people close to them. My parents had to move out of their home to care for my grandfather, and cannot relocate somewhere warm in their retirement until he passes. Rather than leaving behind an inheritance to his children and grandchildren, my grandfather’s money is being spent to keep his body functioning.

    Just as people can consent to a DNR request, I feel that people should be able to request euthanasia if they are of sound mind, even if the consent is given in advance of their mental deterioration. We have to stop this idea that simply being alive is worthwhile. Religion plays a large role in this, which is ironic considering that Christians believe that you go to an eternity of bliss when you die.

    • What sort of god would want to force a life like that on someone, as well? I try to remember my Grandma the way she used to be, because she’s just not the same person in any way, anymore. Thanks for reading 🙂

      • Agreed, that’s why I can’t stand the hypocrisy and mental gymnastics required to oppose either euthanasia or abortion for catastrophic defects. You believe that people will go to an eternity of bliss when they die, yet you want to force them to suffer through a meaningless and painful existence on Earth? Because God would want that?

  • au37x18

    Typical christian, they want you to suffer. It is a good and noble thing to suffer. The more you suffer the better it is, the closer to ‘god’ you are. The church and other christian organizations like the Australian christian Lobby (ACL) do their best to keep voluntary euthanasia outlawed here.

    My ex’s mother died at 70 and was physically and mentally quite healthy until a few days before her death. She was an atheist and always said she doesn’t want to be kept alive, just comfortable in the last days. When she went to hospital with some respiratory problems, he asked her if she still wants that and she said yes. Within a few days she was dead.

    My mother died at 90 and had Alzheimer’s the last three years. She was bed-ridden during that time. She was very religious and wouldn’t have considered euthanasia. Most of the time she didn’t recognize any of us and didn’t talk at all, although she had a few moments of clarity now and then and could talk for a minute or two.

    Seeing her last three years made me decide I definitely don’t want to live like that. With current laws in Australia lethal narcotics like barbiturates cannot be purchased anymore and I can’t ask anybody to assist me, they would go to jail. So I have to spend a small fortune to get Dignitas to do it. (or a similar organization in Europe who would take foreigners) And I would have to do it long before it is necessary so I can actually make the journey to Europe, many hours travel from Oz.

    An alternative is to give the christians a wake-up call and blow my own brains out with a large caliber gun in a church during morning service. That way they will literally have my evil atheist blood not just on their hands, but all over them, a bit of dark symbolism and dark humor. Just some musings of a depressed mind 🙂

    • Chris Gurney

      With that Catholic sock puppet as our PM I doubt much will change for a while (not like there’s an effective opposition is there? 🙁 )

  • Virtual Atheist

    Length of life is not the most important aspect, but quality of life. Much as the religious types might try to argue otherwise.

    Some lives are taken too early, but some… Some are taken far too late.

  • Beautiful blog post! My own grandmother, who passed away a couple years ago, suffered from Alzheimer’s and was definitely not herself and didn’t have any quality of life. It was tough on my entire family and my grandmother was barely a person anymore, just a shadow of who she was before, who couldn’t take care of herself and cried a lot. While I cannot say if she would have wanted to end said miserable existence, I can say that to force anyone to live like that is inhumane.
    Funny how Christianity is associated with charity and being good, when it seems more often than not to force people to accept a miserable existence they do not want and cannot change. I was saddened when my grandmother died, but it also came as a relief, not because I wanted her to die, but because she was in very significant ways already dead and was now a shell of a person who suffered every day. Suicide is a multifaceted issue and some people just cannot comprehend that.

  • Thankfully, my last living grandmother is still living, though she is christian, I think she has a tiny tiny bit of Alzheimer’s because there are sometimes where she’ll forget which daughter does what at the present date.
    She’ll be 81 on Jan 31st, and sometimes I hope she would take the time to think clearly about what may happen, if she were to go full blown, and to actually brood over the years she’s been alive and seen, as she lived through WWII and Every bit of that, and even my Grandfather on my dad’s side, who had to pick up the dead bodies at Pearl Harbor for his first mission, and then during something else, was trying to keep his friend awake, and the government goes and shoots his friend when the friend falls asleep.

  • Twoolf

    After nursing one family member through Alzheimers, and watching another take 15 years to die a slow miserable death, I swore that would never happen to me. I don’t live in a state where assisted dying is allowed (yet), but there are several ways a person can have a quiet, painless, peaceful death without bothering with government intrusion. I am capable of executing two of those methods, and will avail myself of one of them when life has run its clock out, and nothing but misery is left.

    Like minded people should contact the Final Exit Network, or Compassion and Choices.

    @lovethatscience