I will forever be grateful that I talked with my four children about end of life choices.
When they were all teens, I would come home from my work as an R.N.,, and we would sit around the kitchen table while I reflected on my day. Over and over I would ask them to think about what they would do if they became spinal cord injured or lost a limb, their sight, or anything that would make them dependent, or, facing death. These conversations eventually came to: “how do you want to die?” Or, “if you are terminally ill, would you want to end your life?”
Little did any of us know that a few short years later, when Jody was 24,these conversations would come full circle: Jody was terminally ill. I knew she would ask me to help her die. And I knew I would help her. I had witnessed to many people trapped in dying bodies, crying out in pain, left alone in a hospital bed, trapped. In every case I witnessed no conversations had taken place about how they wanted to die or where they wanted to die. Due to a total lack of communication about end of life care, the families anddoctors were left with no choice but to witness them die a slow, many times painful, lingering death.
I am so grateful that the conversations about “what do you want to do if …” had taken place. I knew Jody’s heart and mind.
Jody died in my arms, at home. Her words still linger:
“Mom, I’m not going to get better and there is no sense in my suffering, please Mom, please, help me die.”