We've all heard in one form or another, that Britney Maynard ended her life on November 1, 2014. Moving to Portland after a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer, she took part in the state's extremely controversial death with dignity act. This term "death with dignity" is something that I have been pondering about today, amidst all of the other ramblings about "personal choice" and targeted "shame on you" replies to posts on Facebook towards targets that have no voice.
I think there is an underlying reason why the term "death with dignity" is being touted around so much, and that is guilt. It is a means to cover up the guilt of the person taking their life, as well as the people letting them take it. In that situation, we ask ourselves, "am I giving up too soon, am I abandoning my kids, my family, friends?!" It's a means to help cover the feelings of shame that people feel as they, or someone they love, are preparing to die. The shame of letting their world down.
Now, by "giving dignity" to those who choose to end their life early because of a terminal condition, we thereby remove dignity from those who take their own life for any other reason, and from those who choose to "go down fighting". If there is no dignity lost in death, why do we feel the need to give it in some circumstances? Unless there truly are lesser forms of death.
The day will come when I will have to choose how my life will end, and I truly hope my dignity is not determined by my choice. Our dignity is in how we lived, not how we die.
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