Dignitas

This story is a couple of days old, but it made mem kinda happy.  Of course, there is no cause for celebration in the fact that these two people were facing dibilitating illnesses, but as someone who has lost both parents, in vastly different ways, I found some joy that these two people were able to leave this world on their own terms.

I remember the flap over Kevorkian, but I never understood it. What we did to that man was shameful.  He didn’t stalk parking lots looking for victims, he came when he was contacted by those desperate enough to want to die.  He was a victim of our collective fear of death, and politicians that lacked the least bit of courage.

There isn’t much info out there on this Swiss Company, other than a Wikipedia page.  It seems to have had a rocky, contentious start, but has since upgraded its methods and facility.

It is easy to find fault in this type of service.  But is what Dignitas does more exploitative than those telemarketing firms that wish to sell you a final resting place?

The way we handle death in this country seems a little dated, at least.  With the exception of multi-media presentations, funerals look the same today as when I was a kid.  Drive to a church, (whether or not the deceased ever set foot in one) listen to a preacher attempt to find an applicable bible verse to accompany his notes on the guest of honor,followed by one or more tearful speakers, followed by yet another car trip, this time in formation, to a prepared burial site.  Maybe this approach has withstood the test of time, but I still find all so….lacking.

Maybe there should be pyrotechnics.  Confetti.  Bon Voyage banners?  Personally, I don’t think we Americans have really let our creativity flourish in this area. Maybe, one day, there will be brightly colored “exit portals” in every strip mall.

Anyway, it seems that the bulk of business for Dignitas comes from Germany, with a handful of Brits choosing this service to help them ease on out.  I’m pretty sure Americans can go to Oregon if they choose to exercise their right to die, but I’m not sure what that entails.

I’m just glad these two people, after 54 years of marriage, were able to do this together if they so chose.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Dignitas

  1. democommie

    We live in a nation that supports killing people for revenge and forcing people to live that are ready to die. How fucked up is that?

    When my grandparents had been married for 54 years they separated and spent their remaining years apart. I think they both died, in a large way, when they separated.

  2. All too many people make decisions and take positions on what they imagine when they discuss an issue like this. Nobody knows the future and some would say you should fight for life to the very end. Cancer can be curable and they may survive even if the odds are low.

    What one person thinks of as impossible odds they aren’t willing to endure, another will look at and believe winnable. That sort of differing points of view make drawing lines in the sand (or in a law) difficult to do.

    We’re supposed to value life and only give it up when it’s our time to go — and that’s externally decided. It’s hard for some people to deal with. One person might want to let go right now, but will they next week?

    It’s an emotionally charged issue, and also ripe for misuse. “Aunt Sally’s getting feeble-minded and she’s gotten sicker. Let’s talk her into kicking the bucket so we can inherit and take that vacation to Cancun.”

    Just so you know, I’m thinking fireworks, shooters and dancing girls for my funeral. Loose women optional – after all, I won’t be getting any … that I’ll know of.

  3. I intend to be there, then, Jim. Thanks for the heads-up.

  4. Hey, I’m here for ya. Of cpourse, I won’t be there for ya, but that’s life – or the absense of it.

  5. And, by the way, I hope to have a recording that plays whenever anyone comes up to the casket. “Don’t I look just like myself? They did a wonderful job, didn’t they? Such nice work. How’ve you been? I was sick, have you heard? Yeah. It didn’t go well, unfortunately, so here I am. But I do look good. Take care of yourself.”

  6. The Missus

    My Mom was telling me today about some dying friend who had a going away party. I thought that was a cool idea. I never got the Kevorkian thing either. Some people have no empathy.

  7. democommie

    I knew a guy who was a college teacher, self-taught pianist and custom exhaust for Harley’s kinda guy. He got some bad news, stage 4 melanoma and he quit working so’s he could devote his remaining time to having a good time.

    I went to his wake, but missed his funeral, as his wake was several months before he died. He was Irish, of course, and said there was no fucking way he’d be missing such a good party.

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