“To be or not to be; that is the question…” Hamlet
“When to Die” posted on October 8 was about Brittany Maynard who made headlines by declaring she would kill herself on November 1. The reason? Terminal brain cancer that left her with less than a year to live. There would be pain and suffering. She preferred – to use the euphemism – die with dignity.
Check the archive. Read the post. I’ll wait.
OK. So she got the poison from her doctor (that sounds weird no matter how many times I type or say it) and can take it any time. Tomorrow was supposed to be the day. She finished her Bucket List this past week with a visit to the Grand Canyon. She’s been suffering the effects of her tumor for a bit now, including seizures, fatigue, and more.
I was happy to read yesterday that she has at least postponed her suicide for a while. She still has a lot of joy remaining in her life. This echoes what I argued in my October 8 post; the Bible tells us to watch for good deeds that God has prepared in advance for us to do. You never know what God has in store for you: joy, love, inspiration for others or any number of other things we can do for and enjoy with other people.
I also noted in When to Die that I wasn’t necessarily talking from the cheap seats, having come close to death three times myself. Brittany, on the other hand, may have been in the cheap seats along with many others who are into the right to die movement. In other words, she bought into the right to die/die with dignity camp before she actually moved into death’s neighborhood, so to speak. And that isn’t meant to be critical. No, it’s realistic.
Short version – her survival instinct kicked in. Death is much easier to brave while it’s still got some distance. The closer you get, the faster you backpedal. Believe me when I say I’m very happy for her that she listened to her own God-given instinct to survive. She decided she loved her husband and family and friends more than dying with dignity. She’s already been having seizures and other problems. I think a goodly chunk of her dignity, if that’s how you define it, has already left.
I find her backbone to deal with her problems so she can spend as much time as possible with her loved ones to have the greater dignity. I think it takes greater courage to face “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” with dignity and grace than to ascend the gallows kicking and screaming with soiled knickers.
God gave us life. Sin – humanity’s collective choice per Adam and Eve – is the cancer that’s eating poor Brittany alive. Respecting and living that life as much as possible is our gift.
I hope Brittany will continue to realize that life is indeed worth living all the way through, no matter how hard it can get. I hope she loves her husband and family enough to not take herself away from them before her true end. I hope this week’s postponement is her first step toward taking her own finger off the trigger and letting God take her when He says it’s time.