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He had been in the hospital for eight months now. Visits to the hospital where my grandfather had been admitted were one of the most painful experiences that I have ever had. I knew that he was undergoing extreme mental and physical pain. I had painfully watched my grandfather’s health deteriorate ultimately bringing him to the state where he was only living to endure pain with no hope.
The Doctor had said that all attempts of recovery were now futile. I could sometimes watch him scream because of the extreme pain that he was enduring. As I often watched my grandfather closely, I could confirm that the once enthusiastic face was gradually losing interest in life and had instead been reduced to a shell of suffering from no confidence, hope, or self-esteem. It even reached a point where he was not even able to recognize friends and relatives including me, his favorite grandson.
We now had to make this difficult decision to end his life and relieve him of all the pain that he was undergoing. I remember standing beside my grandfather as the doctor cut off the oxygen supply. He struggled shortly before stiffening with a weak smile on his face. Although this happened five years ago, the memories are still vivid in my mind. I knew and I have always known that we made the right decision for our grandfather as a family. (Grisez & Boyle 451)
Mercy killing relieves suffering and pain not just to the patient but also to friends and family. As I had said, my grandfather was enduring extreme mental and physical pain which had reduced him to someone who was only living to endure this suffering with no hope at all. This pain was unnecessary since it was not leading to any good and hence was not worth enduring. My grandfather was struggling to breathe even with oxygen tubes on his nostrils.
In short, we were forcing him to live. To live for what purpose? The truth is that we were doing all these because we were afraid to lose our grandfather. One can therefore argue that we were keeping our grandfather here with us for our selfish purposes. Our fear of losing him overlooked the great pain that he was undergoing- a pain that he was undergoing as we forced him to continue living. This was causing more harm than good not just to him but also to us. We were living in denial that the time for my grandfather had come. (Heifetz & Mangel 158)
Apart from my personal experience, I still remember the emotional strain that the whole experience brought to my mother. From the look of things, I knew that my mother was devastated but I never knew the extent of the devastation until I recently interviewed her. During the interview, my mother opened up and told me that months after my grandmother was gone she could burst into tears in the most unlikely places like board meetings.
In a way, my mother blamed herself for my grandfather’s death since she figured that if she had not taken the decision, he would still have been alive. However, she also informed me that she had felt worse the moment she saw him grimacing in pain and knew that the condition was permanent. My mother confessed that she was on the verge of breaking up with my father since he felt that she had taken her grief too far.
This made me realize that although it is not bad to mourn or endure emotional pain because of a loved one that is in such kind of suffering, it is true that we can sometimes make this process unnecessarily longer. This not only increases the duration of emotional suffering for us but can also increase the magnitude of pain for us. We are in danger of becoming disillusioned and ignoring important areas of our lives because our lives have unnecessarily stopped. (Jenkins 125)
Apart from my experience and my mother’s, the third interview I was able to glean left me in tears. According to this person called Cliff, his pal George had been working underneath his car and the car came squashing down on him. While repairing the car, it fell on his head smashing his cranium, the torso cavity, breaking his both arms and irreparably damaged his hip joints. Cliff told me that George was discovered hours later but was still breathing.
After he was found, he was rushed to the nearby hospital where the doctors declared that despite the weak pulse George was brain dead and only had a 10% chance of living. Determined to keep George around, the family decided to take the 10% chance and so George remained in a life support machine in a vegetable state for 3 months. After three months, George’s condition had deteriorated and they only sat waiting for his final moment. After a moment of prayer, the family signed the obligatory paperwork and allowed the doctor to begin the euthanasia process. (Manning 96)
From my experience, my mother’s and Cliff’s experience, it is obvious that the people who support euthanasia do it from a heart of care because they believe that they are ending extreme suffering for their loved one. This loved one is more precious than what their pockets could give or their finances could buy. Although they have given all these wholeheartedly, it has not eased suffering for their loved one but it has increased it.
Since the objective has not been realized for the one they love, they now have to painfully meet the objective of ending suffering for their loved one by ending his/her life. Ironically, those who are unwilling to adopt mercy killing can be described as selfish since they are just postponing the death of a loved one who has to endure extreme pain just because they want him/her to stay around. (Grisez & Boyle 500)
Throughout history, euthanasia has been a controversial topic. Despite the many theories surrounding this subject, it is obvious that is executed when someone is enduring extreme pain and suffering with no hope of improving. Another truth is that keeping such a person alive is just postponing a reality and that it will just drain our efforts and resources in vain. Several moral questions arise concerning mercy killing.
By following such moral ideals, we are likely to find ourselves in a labyrinth lined with uncertainties whether what we are doing is good for a patient and us. We would then be acting in pretense to preserve our moral egos instead of accepting facts and realities that are with us. The reality is that someone is already dead and that we are just increasing and prolonging his/her pain and our pain by keeping him/her alive.
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Grisez, Germain, & Boyle, Joseph. Life and death with liberty and justice: a contribution to the euthanasia debate, 1975. University of Notre Dame Press, 451-521. Print.
Heifetz, Milton. & Mangel, Charles. The Right to Die, 1975. Toronto: Longman Canada Limited, 158-245. Print.
Jenkins, Joe. Contemporary moral issues; Examining Religions Series, 2002. Heinemann, 125-205. Print.
Manning, Michael. Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide: killing or caring?, 1998. Paulist Press, 96-120. Print.