Faith, Musings

On death and dying: Brittany Maynard made us all think

Brittany Maynard
Brittany Maynard. Image from cnn.com

Brittany Maynard was a 29 year woman who left this earth over the weekend. Her story made media headlines worldwide. Why? Because she made a choice for medically assisted suicide (legal where she lived) before the cancer in her brain could ravage her mentally and physically before killing her. You can read her story here.

There are a lot of people talking about, and writing about Brittany, and the choice that she very publicly made. Last night when her name flashed through the news headlines my husband turned to me and said ‘what do you think about all that?’. My honest answer was:

“I don’t know”.

When it comes to medically assisted suicide/euthanasia or whatever you what to call it:

On the one hand, I think Brittany made a brave and informed decision. She knew what she could be facing, and she chose to spare herself, and her loved ones from an inevitably grisly death. It’s really important that she was clinically ‘sane’ (clear in judgement) when she made this decision. I don’t judge, it’s not my place. Brittany made an impossibly hard decision in a really awful circumstance. Honestly, I’m not scared of death because I know death in this life, means the beginning of my eternal life, but if I were in Brittany’s shoes, could I say I’m not scared of dying?

On the other hand, I know that as humans, we don’t determine our days on this earth. “Mortals have a limited life span. You’ve already decided how long we’ll live—you set the boundary and no one can cross it” (Job 14:5 MSG). This is, for me, a matter of faith, and my fears have to surrender to that faith. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2Tim 1:7 NLT).

So there is my decision. It would not be the right thing for me.

It’s a murky water generally and a much bigger argument that what is right or wrong depending on the beliefs of each individual. What about the elderly who have come too far to make a ‘sane’ choice? What about children who can’t make the choice for themselves? What about the intellectually challenged without the capacity to make the decision? What about caregivers/family members with selfish motives (caring for a long-term ill loved one is taxing)? If this becomes legal, who makes the decisions, who stands up for the weak, the young, the challenged? Who makes sure this isn’t abused?

This is big. I’m not here to solve the issue.  I make the decisions for myself.  I don’t judge others. I pray.  And I pray that I never have to apply this in my life.

I will come back to Brittany to end this. I think Brittany was brave. At the end of her life, she opened herself to criticism, judgement and contempt. But she stood up and fought for what she believed was right. And she got a lot of people talking openly about a big scary controversial subject. So whether we agree with her decisions or not, I think she did good.

Brittany Maynard Words

AbbiesBabble

 

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17 thoughts on “On death and dying: Brittany Maynard made us all think”

  1. “This is big. I’m not here to solve the issue. I make the decisions for myself. I don’t judge others. I pray. And I pray that I never have to apply this in my life.”

    Well put. At the end of the day, we can only make our own choices and pray that we never have to face down such huge, terrifying decisions ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, oh so scary. I think it helps not to bash everyone else in the process. Kinda sad seeing a lot of people trashing opinions other than their own with no decent argument to back it up. Especially in the name of ‘religion’. Sigh. There’s a whole ‘nother blog post right there!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing. Perpetually an issue that contemporary Christians have to face, one that we always struggle to give a ‘correct, christian’ answer to. Appreciate the inoffensive manner in which you pieced out your opinions. Thank you for thinking deeper about this, thank you for sharing about this, instead of leaving it as ‘I don’t know’ – as so many of us often do. I found myself agreeing with you – fantastic template of a compassion-filled response that I should learn how to make. Thank you, but above all, thank God for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow, what an absolutely lovely comment to receive. Thank YOU! I definitely don’t want to be offensive so I’m glad I seem to have pulled this off. It’s surely a touchy subject.

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  3. Wow, thanks for sharing this, an understandably polarizing topic. Choosing “I don’t know” is a very honest answer. I think I could say if I ever had to make the choice for myself, I would choose to avoid the suffering. If I became responsible for making that choice for someone else? ..I don’t think I could objectively make that decision. I don’t think anyone could. They’d be torn between wanting to keep them as long as possible or letting them go. Neither is easy.

    Nice post. :]

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    1. Thanks for commenting. I didn’t really take on the ‘making that choice for someone else’ angle. I couldn’t imagine doing that. I watched my mum die of cancer. Her treatment was brutal, her last month so sad and hard to see her pain. But I don’t ever feel I could have stepped in and said enough is enough. You are right. Neither is easy.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You hit the nail on the head. It matters not what we all think. Our decisions are not Brittany’s and Brittany’s are not ours. Dying with dignity is an incredibly personal moral decision. Brittany had courage to stand up for what she personally believed in. Personally judging one another gets us no where in this world. I have read some very awful comments left by the close minded on some of these news stories. It’s sad.

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    1. Yes! It was reading some of the awful comments on other blogs and new stories that prompted me to write something that was (hopefully) honest, with a clear opinion, but non-judgmental.

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  5. I’m with you on this. What she did was brave. However, it is not a choice that I would make for myself. My life is not mine to take. It must be taken when God says that it’s time. I have no idea what His plans for me are, but He does. I rather let Him decide.

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    1. I think for those of us with faith there must be some peace in having that decision taken out of our hands.

      We never know when God is done teaching us, or using us to teach someone else.

      I will always maintain the stance that good can, and will, come from bad. I know that in facing her own mortality (cancer), my mother was able to finally do some real honest thinking about God. If nothing else, for the hell she went through at the end of her time on earth, the good is the gift of her eternal life. If she’d taken the decision to leave earlier (it was never on the cards, not even legal in NZ, just saying), who knows if that would have happened?! Hope that makes sense.

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      1. That makes perfect sense and I completely agree. Good can come from anything, no matter how tragic the situation is or may seem. I’ve certainly seen it in my life. I’m actually going through a time like that right now, and what He has taught me through this is amazing. Also, for your mother to have that time, that chance, that many do not get, is invaluable. We never know what God will do, or how He will use the situations that we find ourselves in. I have complete faith in Him that He knows what He’s doing and that He will make good out of anything. He always has, at least in my life.

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        1. I pray you feel that constant source of strength and courage for whatever you are facing at this time. I love that you can see the lessons. A 🙂

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  6. Until we place ourselves in her shoes, we cannot begin to imagine this decision. Thank you for talking about this…it is important to realize that we have no room to judge-because we cannot begin to understand.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely Hagen. I was motivated to write about this, not just because it was on my heart, but because I have seen too many comments and blog posts that are just caustic. This is such a personal thing and we are all entitled to our own opinion, but I find it sad that some people need to be so nasty when putting their thoughts out there. And that goes for both sides of the argument. I wanted to present my opinion in a way that was honest but still allowing for anyone else to be heard. And you’re right, until we’ve walked someone’s shoes, we can’t honestly say we understand their journey and therefore, their decisions. Thanks for speaking up 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I pray I am never in her shoes or close to someone who wants to make that decision as it must be so so tough to fix the time of death like that of your self or of a loved one.
    You have given a very balanced and compassionate view on many issues … including how the ‘right to die’ can be exploited in the case of the feeble, the mentally challenged, the young – also the disabled and the weak. ‘The right to die’ is like giving a blank check to ‘cull humans’ when it APPEARS they have no more ‘vALUE’.
    I feel all life … including a life of suffering .. ultimately has some value; pain and grief can melt hearts that are losing human feeling and bring out the core of human compassion. As a Christian I believe that suffering can be redemptive though admittedly this is easier to say when you are not in the midst of the pain or the grief.
    There are so many issues involved You have done a wonderful job in presenting all sides so we realise that we can never condemn people for the decisions that they take. That is ultimate compassion and love.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment. You’re right, there are so many sides to consider. I was definitely intentional about clearly presenting my own argument without trashing the decisions of others. It is deeply personal. I really appreciate your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

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