Death With Dignity
Death with dignity is also known as assisted suicide for those with a terminal illness. I can hardly believe that I am having this conversation with my MIL, the mom of my heart (or mom-in-love, as one of my oldest friends wrote to me).
As the pain from cancer throughout her body increases, she is taking morphine to control it. It makes her dopey, and she doesn’t feel like herself. She can not think clearly due to the morphine, and she can think just fine without it (albeit, in pain). So she’s on the pain – dopey continuum, and there is no longer any way off of it. And it will only get worse.
Shall she suffer to the bitter end?
At first she wanted to go through the process and die at home. Now she’s not so sure, as the symptoms increase and the outcome is pre-determined. She says she’s not herself anymore, and she doesn’t like that.
In my role as advocate, I call Mom a couple of times a day to ask how her pain is and if she’s taken morphine to control it (she’s not tracking well anymore). I go to visit with her a couple of times a week to see for myself how she’s doing, and to hang out with her as much as I can, and to give her partner a break from care-giving.
It’s also my role to bring up options and discuss them with her, especially when she’s not dopey, even if they are difficult topics. California is not a state that allows Death with Dignity. That adds another complication. Although the discussion in California is now underway.
Caregiver Self-Care and Support
Then I go exercise, and cry, and keep taking care of and living life. It’s challenging.
I know many of you are going through this, too, and my heart goes out to you.
I don’t know the right answer to death with dignity. I just know the questions.
There are support groups for care-givers, and I know many of you don’t want to leave your beloved’s side — and it’s okay to do so for periods of time. Others want to help, so let them step up, and you step back for small breaks.