Romanticising Pain And Suffering

Giles Fraser has an article in the Guardian, in which he claims “I want to be a burden on my family as I die, and for them to be a burden on me”.

Well, bully for him. And a bully is what he is proposing to be, with his pernicious nonsense. I reject his argument that the “problem with euthanasia is not that it is a immoral way to die, but that it has its roots in a fearful way to live”.

Eric MacDonald also demolishes Fraser’s argument completely, and I refer you to him for chapter and verse. A couple of key quotes:

But it’s not called “looking after each other” if what the person who is suffering is asking for is help to die. It’s called coercion, then — which has a very different resonance — and if someone is being coerced into being a burden, then Fraser has simply has missed the point about what looking after each other is all about. Moreover — and this, coming from a priest, is inexcusable — it simply papers over the cracks with regard to how people die. Sometimes the burden, if Fraser really wants to know, is borne by those who are dying, and if those who are watching someone die in misery doesn’t notice this, then they are simply not watching closely enough!

And this just shows that Fraser hasn’t the least understanding — but not the slightest understanding! – of what is meant by assisted dying. It’s not the last desperate act of a person who has no inkling of what is happening until the very last moment, when farewells are almost impossible; it is, rather, a conscious act of taking the decision to die upon oneself, instead of leaving it up to the vagaries of the dying process, or to the all but certain stages that the trajectories of some diseases will follow to carry one away either gasping for breath or crying out in pain. Fraser seems to have not the slightest idea of how people die, or, if he does, he deliberately hides it from his readers the less to worry them at the end of life. But it is just as well to know, beforehand, just how terrible death can be, not so that we can be afraid of it — which seems as far as Fraser’s puny imagination will take him — but so that we can be prepared for it, and take our leave before the worst overtakes us.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
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