Follow us:

Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 1, 2008 at 5:14 PM

Initiative 1000: death with dignity

Don’t be selfish

I hope you have voted, or will vote for, Initiative 1000.

I have watched too much of the suffering that accompanies dying. I have had to stand by three of the most important women in my life on their journey though those last weeks of pain: my mother (of breast cancer), my first wife (of ovarian cancer) and now my second wife (of primary peritoneal cancer).

I do not know whether any one of them would have chosen to ask for an earlier release from their suffering. Most dying people do not.

I do wish fervently they could have had the option.

Of course, pain can be controlled better now than it could be 60 years ago, or even 40 years ago. But only at the great cost of erasing something essential in us. Powerful narcotics do things to your head.

Some people who claim to know God’s will insist that it would have been murder to allow them to die a few days or weeks earlier.

I believe rather that God gains nothing, and we who watch gain nothing, and those who die gain nothing, by being forced to endure those additional days of needless, mind-bending pain and drugs.

I cannot believe that a merciful God could insist we have to drag anguish out to the very last minute, while the one you love slips in and out of a drugged consciousness, with lines of hurt etched on every inch of her/his face.

A few extra days at the end of 80 years, or even 40 years, of a full life does not seem very significant in an eternity.

We betray our own selfishness by hanging on to those who are dying in pain because we cannot bear to lose them. Whether it is on religious or humanitarian grounds, every part of me cries out to release them, if they are ready to go, while their minds are still clear enough for loving, final relationships to be rich and full.

— Blaine Hammond, Seattle

Comments | More in Health care, State initiatives

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►