Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Last Goodnights

A few days ago, I finished a book called "The Last Goodnights" by John West. When I went to the library and saw this book, it was the subtitle that caught my eye, "Assisting my parents with their suicides". I was immediately intrigued as I read the inside cover. I am not for assisted suicides, but became perplexed to find out that he actually did help his parents with suicide.
My mind started racing with thoughts like how does he cope with everything? The book is about his parents who are very respected people in the medical field and want to die with dignity. His father has cancer that is ravishing is body. Before his father gets too sick, he pulls his son aside and tells him his request. His request to end his life and that he wants his son to help him. At first, the son was riddled with guilt and shame about ending his father's life. But as the cancer worsened, the son had no problems helping ending his father's life.
The father being a doctor was able to get prescriptions for all kinds of things. And ultimately what happened is the father overdosed on medication purposely to end his life. His son was right there with him, helping him take the medication. I didn't seem too bothered by the dad's death.
The mother on the other hand had a few health problems, but physically was in pretty good shape. She developed Alzheimer's and her memory began to fade. Early on in the diagnosis, she was still pretty sharp and told her son that she wanting him to help with her death as well. They constantly talked about "The Plan", which is what they called it. As her memory left her, he kept reminding her about the plan. And six months later, she overdosed on medications as well. She took over 100 pills (various mixture of things) and just fell asleep and never woke up. The son, wound up falling asleep while waiting for her to pass, and dreamed that the medication wasn't working. So in his dream he decided to smother his mom until she stopped breathing. I was already disturbed by him helping her overdose, but became even more disturbed when he had that dream.
He never spoke of it to anyone until after his parents were long gone and even then, it was just close family members. In the book, he stated he didn't know what would happen to him once this book was published, but felt he needed to put it out there. Funny thing is, he's a lawyer.
After reading this book, I can't stop thinking about it. I can't imagine what he is going through. Growing up in an assisted living home, I've seem my fair share of suffering and death. In fact, I've seen more death than most people. I've seen an Alzheimer's patient who is so far gone, they remember nothing of the current time. Only memories from their past are all they possess. I've seen both of my grandparents take their last breath and was grateful when they were gone because they suffered no more. I've seen someone die from choking on their own blood. So parts of me could relate to that book and why he did what he did.
But another part of me was blown away completely. He ultimately killed his parents. I don't know if I could do that. I know my conscience would get the best of me and do me in. Now that I am a believer, I know that it's all in God's timing and He will take you when He's good and ready. Suffering or not, you're being kept alive for a reason.
So, what do you think? What would you do if you had a loved one that was so sick they weren't even the same person you knew? They were in a lot of pain physically or mentally and just wanted to end it all. If they asked you for help in their death, would you help them?
My answer is no, even after seeing everything I have seen and reading that book. But it definitely put everything into perspective.

No comments: