I took my old dog to the vet. She was deaf, could barely walk into the garden for a pee, hadn’t eaten for four days and spent the time snoozing. Her quality of life was zilch. I realised that I was keeping her alive for my sake, rather than hers.
I cuddled her as the vet administered the injection. She’s now in a woodland grave.
I have a widowed sister of 96 who is in a very similar situation and who is quite happy to rejoin her late husband ‘in glory’ as she puts it.
She regrets that her care is so expensive and in her view quite unnecessary, but no one is allowed to hand her the final pill.
As someone well past his own three score years and ten and in good health, I envy my old dog her good fortune in having someone who loved her enough to do the right thing in worsening circumstances when that awful day arrived.
I have no wish to cost the country large sums of money just to keep me going when it becomes clear that I won’t last much longer anyway and will suffer miserably in the meantime. Much rather invest the cash in the future than in the past.
I’m not suggesting compulsory euthanasia, of course; only that while we still have our marbles we are allowed to determine how we wish our ending to be. Choice.
My dog had to have the choice made for her. Humans are luckier; or they would be if only society permitted it. It is neither fair nor correct that politicians should decide what is right or wrong in such personal matters.
Their job is to ensure sturdy legislation to permit free and informed choice whilst also ensuring that malpractices will be detected and prevented.
No doubt some loopholes will be found but that is the signal to tighten up the rules, not to prevent lawful suicides. It is, as they say, hardly rocket science.
My sister and I both regard death as just one more bridge to be crossed as our souls go marching on. We don’t expect anyone else to accept our views, but in the same way we do not accept the views of other people.
The difference may be that whereas we do not force our views on others they nevertheless wish to enforce their views on us.
A recent TV programme followed the final months of several terminally ill people. They all coped with their situation in their own way and came to terms with their passing with admirable equanimity once doubt and hope was ended.
A dear neighbour died with terrible bone cancer. She screamed for pain killers, but these were refused ‘in case she became addicted’. I ask you, an octogenarian on her death bed becoming a drug addict! How stupid is that?
Would that politicians tackled this matter before I, too, start screaming.
Tim Flinn is a retired education psychologist. He lives in Garvald, East Lothian