I suppose by now most of you have heard that Brittany Maynard, the young woman with a terminal brain cancer diagnosis, opted to end her life over the weekend in an effort to “die with dignity.”
My thoughts, of course, are shaped by my Catholic upbringing, so if you’re in the camp that lauds Ms. Maynard for her “bravery,” feel free to move along, rather than subject yourself to the “other” side.
(And no hard feelings, okay? We’re ALL entitled to our own opinions!)
Okay, for those still with me, I’d like to point out a few things Ms. Maynard obviously never considered:
- Our lives aren’t “ours.” They were bought at great price by the God of the universe, and we have NO right to end them. Murder, even of self, is wrong and always has been. I know it’s popular to say we’re free to do as we wish, but can we? Really? Don’t we get arrested if we whip out a gun and shoot the guy who cuts us off in traffic? Don’t the police come running when we set our warehouse on fire to collect insurance money? Just because a state (like Oregon) has decided it’s okay for physicians to assist the suicides of terminally-ill patients doesn’t make suicide right.
- We don’t get to “choose” how we’re born … or how we die. We don’t get to choose the family we’re born into, the color of our skin, the talents we’re given. Every one of us has the opportunity to “die with dignity” when our time comes. To embrace death as a pathway to the hereafter, to comfort our grieving loved ones, to meet the next challenge with courage and faith. Not to swallow some pills and “check out” when we don’t get dealt the hand we wanted.
- Not even doctors KNOW without a doubt that “terminal” means terminal. In fact, just this week, I received a notice from Mayo Clinic that they’d uncovered a drug that, for all intents and purposes, is a “cure” for melanoma. Cures are being discovered every single day by hard-working scientists. How would Ms. Maynard feel if a cure for her illness showed up a month after she’d passed on? How would her family feel?
- As for bravery, I don’t think so. Plenty of people — Christopher Reeve, Farrah Fawcett, Gilda Radner, Michael J. Fox, and countless others — give us exemplary models of what it’s like to carry a cross not of their choosing.
I’m sure Ms. Maynard thought she was doing what was best for herself, but at 29, she couldn’t have known. Certainly she was afraid of what usually is seen as a horrendous death. Certainly she didn’t want her family to watch her physical and mental decline. But suffering is part of life; indeed, it has redemptive powers. My pity now is for her loved ones left behind.