’Til death us do part

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Sunday columnist Peter Leith is 89 and says he is ‘half-deaf and half-blind’. He faces daily challenges but he makes every day – and every word – count. After reading about the death of an older woman hit by a vehicle, and to highlight his concerns about end-of-life rights, he wrote the following short story.

•••

For 75 years, the single-fronted cottage on the busy, inner-suburban road had been their home.

Determined to never leave it, alive, they had often discussed assisted dying. A trip to Switzerland being beyond their means, they had discussed “do-it-yourself-dying” and decided how to do it.

She, ever since early girlhood, had been neat and clean almost to the point of being obsessive. For her, her own incontinence was unbearable, daily torture. She would “go first”.

Every day, weather permitting, they would stand, on their walking frames, at the traffic lights just down the road. They watched the continuous flow of cars, buses and heavy commercial vehicle traffic on the busy road.

This day, they watched the vehicles and, as the traffic lights turned green, he said, “Now”. She squeezed his hand, said, “Goodbye John” and stepped in front of the towering, concrete truck as it started to move away.

•••

Peter is seeking your input. He writes: “Are you dying? Oops! Silly question! Of course, we are all dying. What I mean is, have you been given a diagnosis and a timeframe? If you have, perhaps you might like to tell me about it and, with your approval, I could write your story for the interest and benefit of YourLifeChoices’ many readers like us.”

Send it to [email protected] and put ‘Peter’ in the subject line.

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13 Comments

Total Comments: 13
  1. 0
    0

    It’s sad that people chose to end their lives this way. Sadder still that they think there is no alternative.
    I feel even more sorry for the truck driver who will have to live with the horror for the rest of his/her life.

  2. 0
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    Whilst I support assisted dying, I think this action was totally irresponsible – no thought was given to the affect that her action would have on the truck driver.
    No thought as to whether any other vehicles could be involved in the subsequent crash – or people injured.
    No thought to the emergency services that would be involved – police, ambulance etc.
    There are other ways that she could have done this without damaging the lives of others.
    Join advocacy groups and put pressure on politicians to have the laws changed – as they are now happening in Victoria.

  3. 0
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    I would never end my life at the expense of another – ie the truck driver, whose life would be devastated by my action.

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      and you could have killed the truck driver and killed or injured others.
      What a dreadful thing for the truck driver to have to deal and live with.
      Yes it was irresponsible no matter how you look at it!

  4. 0
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    How selfish is this woman. No care or thought in the world about how her selfish & irresponsable action will affect not just this poor truck driver but also his family, freinds, co workers etc. There are many alternatives she could of chosen the wouldn’t bring into play an unsuspecting 3rd party. drug overdose, hanging, bullet to head, slash your wrists in a warm bath etc.
    This poor truckie could be affected to point that he may never be able to work again.

  5. 0
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    I wholeheartedly agree with all the above comments.
    People who choose to end their lives, for whatever reason, need to think of the pain, despair, devastation and sorrow that they would inflict on others, whose lives you will ruin. How could one do that to other humans?
    And ‘good on the couple’ to have discussed it and agree on the ‘where and how’, but were the children and grandchildren given the chance to say goodbye. Not worth thinking about how this act would devastate them and probably lay blame at the feet of the poor truck driver, who probably will also blame himself, wondering if he ought to have been able to stop in time.
    Suicide is a selfish act. Always was and always will be.
    Dying with dignity is legal and even when it wasn’t, their were ways to do it without implicating others.
    Talk to your medical professionals. They have seen and heard it all.

  6. 0
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    What a selfish person!

  7. 0
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    While I agree with other comments that say it is wrong to involve others if you decide to suicide I also feel sorry for this lady. The majority of suicide attempts go horribly wrong leaving the individual worse off. And no it is anything but a selfish act, it is an act of sheer desperation. The mind is a very powerful thing and when it decides it doesn’t want to be here any more it needs the right kind of help and support to turn it around and this is not always available. It also doesn’t always work as everyone has different tolerance levels. Some of the comments here are just plain ridiculous. Dying with dignity is not legal and has all sorts of restrictions around it and you need to read those restrictions before you make this type of comment. You cannot buy a gun or ammunition without a licence. Can you imagine a little old lady walking into a gun shop to buy a gun – get real! You’d also have to be pretty clever to be able to trick several different doctors into prescribing enough sleeping tablets to kill a person and then you would need to travel around the countryside to get them dispensed at several different pharmacies without causing suspicion. Drug addicts do actually do this but good luck if you’re a little old lady using a walking frame. “Talk to your medical professional” really! They can only help you with pain relief if you are already dying in a palliative care hospital. Your best bet is probably a Psychologist if you can afford one but you may have to wait 3-6 months to get in to see a good one. Thinking about all the people out there who have drinking, smoking, overeating, under-eating, illegal and prescription drug habits, mental disorders etc. etc. and it just goes on and on, it is obvious the mind is a very very complex part of the body. Personally I hope I am one of the lucky ones who drops dead on the floor of a heart attack.

  8. 0
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    I had a passing knowledge of a truck driver in Townsville area that was involved with a fatal accident. He surrended his drivers licence and several years he still had not driven again.

  9. 0
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    I know of a young woman who died in much the same manner but she was mentally ill. To choose such a manner of dying is very selfish as most of the comments here agree. One way to die is to take a goodly amount of blood pressure pills & boom ! that is it !

  10. 0
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    What a dreadful thing to do to the concrete-truck driver, who will have to live with that woman’s death on his hands, and her anguished face in his dreams, for the rest of his life. And just suppose she didn’t die, but just ended up with many painful fractures all over her body? I believe if your number’s not up, you won’t die, you’ll only make it worse for yourself! Stupid selfish decision!!

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