Splashed on the front page of the Herald Sun today is a suicide pact of two women who wanted to die with dignity. Here’s what I immediately thought when I read the heart-rending extract from Claire’s letter. My responses to each of her statements:
“Given the laws that exist at this time in history, what I am obliged to do, I will do, and do willingly.”
What are humans obliged to do? We are obliged to act virtuously – honouring God and loving our neighbours, acting in a way that is good for our community. We are not obliged to respond to every request our friends make of us!
“Who would consider a loyal friend to be someone who walks away when their friend is in need?
Indeed. A loyal friend offers faithful friendship. Loyal friends sharpen and encourage each other (Proverbs 27:17). A loyal friend warns us when he sees us acting foolishly (Proverbs 27:6). A loyal friend cares enough to oppose a harmful action. Love does not rejoice in untruth.
“What is loyalty when one abandons others in order to protect oneself? I find I cannot do that.
I find myself always encouraged with great hope when I see someone journey with a friend till the end of his or her life through pain and struggles. It is a painful and selfish thing to abandon those who are suffering. It is worse to say, “I expect the future journey with you to be too difficult, it is not worth it, it is better to kill yourself.” Claire and Val have abandoned hope and abandoned each other out of fear of the future.
“None of our actions has been taken lightly. But neither have they been taken with sorrow or regret.”
I feel grieved and disturbed to hear that she can proudly say she will take her life without sorrow or regret – it reflects such a low view of human dignity & a lack of appreciation for life. It reflects a total rebellion and disrespect toward the Creator of human life.
“We are just two ordinary people, content and fulfilled with our lives but who have planned how to manage the disease confronting us and have chosen to leave this world before all dignity and integrity is lost.
A view that prioritises personal autonomy at the cost of responsibility to God and others, and completely ignoring the effects of one’s actions on the community, has a low view of dignity and integrity. It also reflects a diminished understanding of contentment and fulfilment.
“We will have a wonderful final day and share a meal together before we wish each other well on our final journey.”
You know, I wonder what Claire and Val meant by final journey. Where did they think they were going on this journey after death? Or is it really a journey toward death – made in futility and hopelessness?
By contrast, I was glad to see NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner speak about palliative care recently. Some people do not know that giving adequate pain relief (such as morphine) in a way that may hasten death where death is inevitable is included in palliative care.
Real dignity is very different from the dignity claimed by euthanasia advocates.
For example, I was greatly encouraged by this real story of John negotiating the painful dying days with the love of his life. I praise God when I hear about quadriplegic Joni Eareckson Tada and her husband Ken, about limbless Nick Vujicic.
There surely have been many moments of despair and depression in Joni’s life. Same with Nick. Their challenges didn’t always feel dignifying. At times, they felt helpless. Joni was stripped of her strength and stripped of the wonderful future she envisioned.
But dignity is knowing that their lives were crafted by a loving Creator. Dignity is putting their trust in Him. Dignity is overcoming despair. Dignity is faithfulness through suffering.
This is something that Claire and Val have missed out on, way too late. If you are reading this, it is not too late for you. There is a real depth to God’s Father love – and He desires that all come to know it (2 Peter 3:9).