Life at No.22, Musings

Life’s Choices

In our lives, there is only one certainty, that our life will end. It is also not an easy subject to discuss how you want to end a life well lived. We put in so much thought into how we should live, so, why do we hesitate in putting time and thought into how well in which we die?

For me, how our end of life plays out will be unique for us all and if we have the opportunity we should be given a choice. Without question, because it is no one else’s business but our own. So, when there is an opportunity to be given a choice, why wouldn’t we grab it with both hands? In our October Election, us New Zealanders will have that choice to vote for or against, The End of Life Choice Act. When this topic was first introduced for public consumption, I was quite adamant that I would choose this option for myself if ever it became legal in New Zealand, and now I am not so sure my views are still as strong as they were.

Though, I will be voting, Yes.

As everyone has the right to decide how their end of life plays out. If I am given a chance in my final days I hope that I have a selection of choices. Ones that are legal at present are having an Advance Care Plan, which is a tool for leading discussion and individual decisions around dying and severe illness. We have excellent hospices and palliative care systems too. It all boils down to personal choices. At the moment, we have the choice to linger to the very end. It is time to give everyone another choice and to have loved ones at our bedside.

Of course, there are so many grey areas, and I don’t have enough knowledge to debate them via this post. What I hope to achieve is for all of us to start having that open and honest conversation with your loved ones, so they precisely know what YOU want to happen, not anyone else just YOUR choices.

During the last year, I have had short and long conversations with those whose opinions I value, and a few don’t agree with mine. I do respect their views as I should. Why, would I force my opinion on others and their lives? I don’t get how people can justify doing so. I will say, that I loathe, the righteous who start using overplayed emotive words such as suicide to justify their beliefs. It isn’t helpful. For goodness sake, educate yourselves on what The End of Life Choice Act is all about, then make an informed decision and vote on what you believe is right for yourself.

41 thoughts on “Life’s Choices”

  1. Based on your post, I assume the “The End of Life Choice Act” means that a person who is extremely uncomfortable or in pain at the end of his/her life has the right to request and receive his/her life to end, when mentally capable to make this decision or when having made this decision in the past, when the mind was still capable of it.

    While I’d like to comment this is “common sense” to me, of course I feel everyone should make up their own mind about this. Although I have to guess that the “extreme believers” (just like in the case of “pro life” people in the US when it comes to abortion) must have a problem with this potential law. I hope NZ will turn “progressive” regarding this act, after the elections.

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    1. Liesbet, my understanding is that the person requiring The End of Life choice is in the final stages of a terminal illness. It is not for someone with a mental illness or just because you are elderly. I think if the referendum goes through, the bill will need fine tuning and to make sure that there is no interference from other people when the dying person has requested it. Absolutely agree everyone has the right to decide what is right for them. Don’t get me started on those Pro-Life people in the U.S. – very scary people!

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  2. HI, Suzanne – Thank you for your open discussion of this very important (often hushed) topic. I am not 100% certain of my own views on this topic. But I do agree that having this open and honest conversation with our loved ones is essential (and should not be put off).

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    1. Hi Donna, that’s okay not to be 100% certain as some details of it certainly won’t sit well with many people. Having that discussion of what your loved ones and yourself want to happen in their last days, weeks etc is the most important. Interesting how many of our generation weren’t allowed to attend extended family funerals when we were youngsters.

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  3. I am definitely in the ‘Yes’ camp. It makes sense that something so important and personal would ever be someone else’s choice. Good luck NZ and to you Suzanne with this, a very positive step forward. I’ll be very interested in following this votes’ outcome and if it’s a yes, then wonder if other countries would be brave enough to follow suit. I doubt very much that the UK would. A very well written post Suzanne x

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    1. Thanks very much, Sam, yes I think it’s a positive step forward to giving people another choice. It ‘s not for everyone and I would just like to see people having the choice, whether or not they use it is immaterial x

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  4. I am really tired of people trying to take a personal decision out of the hands of those most impacted by it. If you don’t want it or it goes against your religious beliefs, then don’t do it. The rest of us just want to have the option to make our own choices based on our beliefs and circumstances. Good for you, Suzanne… and good luck with the vote.

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    1. I know of the Dignity in Dying organisation and a worthy one to support. It is such a complex issue for many and maybe we as a society are making it more complex than it needs to be. This subject reminds me of how hard it was to legalise abortion which is now of course legal in most countries.

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  5. I’m glad to hear this subject is being addressed in your country. Our state legislature would not do anything, so about 5 years ago a citizen’s initiative put it on the ballot. It passed by a substantial margin. If we had a healthier dialogue about death in our society, maybe we would move closer to one another rather than further apart.

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    1. Thanks Jude. I believe that medicine and religion shouldn’t get to decide what’s right for us as individuals and as a society. A healthy debate will hopefully continue and not be railroaded by the far right religious groups.

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    1. Thanks Jo. Maybe if we discussed and treated death like we do with other life stages it wouldn’t hold so much emotive issues. Yes, to talking more about it as I’m sure our societies would be more healthier if we dealt with emotive subjects openly instead of putting them in the too hard to handle basket.

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    1. It is all about dignity and as Sue pointed out why is it that we as a culture find it hard to talk about it? Interesting. I am hoping we as a nation are at that point of being open to other choices. Though we are still very conservative and stiff upper lip in many aspects. Time will tell.

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  6. The ability to discuss is something we et need to learn to aquire, without fear or judgement. Death is seldom on the cards…and yet it is the one life event we can guarantee we will all share. Being poised on that particular brink at the moment, in a country where such legal choices are exceedingly limited, it is a subject I have discussed in some depth with my sons and my doctors.

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    1. Hi Sue, and yes it is extremely hard to be at that crucial point in life and not have all the choices you would like available to make an informed decision. I hope for you and your family find the one that suits you the best. It is an ongoing discussion in our home. Some days it is harder than others to discuss. Kia Kaha

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      1. My decisions are made, within the limited choises we currently have and the boys are fine with them … now they have been talked through. Talking is so important here… and we are trained away from talking about death and dying for some reason.

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        1. Les and I chat about it openly and have said to others that we don’t mind talking about it. What we don’t do is dwell on it too much that it becomes depressive, chatting about it in a positive way, if that makes sense. I am glad that your sons and you are happy with your decision. It is important.

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            1. I couldn’t agree more. I even hesitated about pushing the publish button and then thought I need to do it as it’s important to chat about it. As a child who attended a Catholic school we had to attend funerals which weren’t a good experience. Very conservative and awful. It wasn’t until I attended funerals from other cultures that I learnt how different the process can be.

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