Today in the news, Australian journalist and television personality, Tracey Spicer, wrote a letter to her deceased mother.
Starting with “I’m so sorry I didn’t kill you”, she tells the story of her mother’s terminal cancer, their decision as a family to “put her down” once she lost control of her faculties, and Tracey’s failed attempt to smother her mother when the pain was at its worst.
I told you I loved you. And I lowered the pillow over your face.
It hovered there for what seemed like an eternity.
But in the end, I couldn’t do it.
I was weak. A coward. Not my mother’s daughter.
I collapsed on the floor, sobbing.
You must have known: you died hours later.
Finally, you were in peace.
Mum, I hope you forgive me.
Under this article are some 200 comments, mostly commenting on Spicer’s courage and how the readers were being brought to tears by such a beautiful story. Suffice it to say, if I’d cried they would have been very different tears.
What a painful story to read! It’s such a personal retelling for Spicer, and laying judgement is not my purpose at all. But while this family thought they were upholding their mother’s dignity by wanting to take her life earlier than was natural, I strongly believe that the opposite is more dignified.
No one wants to see their loved ones suffer, but at the same time who wants to be responsible for their loved one’s death? The real issue here is the level of palliative care, which in this age (and country) should be at an extremely high level, meaning no reason for voluntary death.
However, my aim here is not to argue against euthanasia. The main point that I should make is this: while Spicer’s logic is far from perfect, she has an emotional argument that is extremely powerful. What we need are more writers who’ve experienced the dignified, involuntary death of a suffering person, writing their stories with just as much feeling. Otherwise it’s no wonder that a majority believe that such a death impossible.