Careful there…

Brittany Maynard is a 29 year old woman with terminal brain cancer who has moved to Oregon in order to receive a doctor’s prescription for life-ending drugs. I choose to respect her decision. This is not a post about her, but about her verbiage.

My concern is the use of the term “dignity”

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There’s an implication here that irks me. You do not lack dignity if you live out your days being cared for by others. That someone else helps you bathe and dress and God-forbid change your diapers…this has nothing to do with:

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We all want to go out on our own terms, but life sucks sometimes and there’s no dishonor in vulnerability.

Love and peace to Brittnay Maynard and all who suffer.



UPDATE: A lovely reader, Marcy, sent me an email with a different interpretation, which I think is valid and good to remember:

My interpretation is that it’s trying to show contrast between the state-sanctioned pills and the likely traumatic ways that terminal people attempt to end their lives early when they are not given a more peaceful option.

I honestly hadn’t thought of that, and was simply reacting to the idea I often hear from people equating a loss of dignity with long term care. I’m also glad to see another side.

2 Responses to “Careful there…”

  • Lisa Says:

    You are so right Jen. I was wondering what bother me so much about what this young woman was saying and you wrote it for me. I watched my Mother die of cancer seven years ago. I changed her, bathed her, and fed her. But I also spent quality time with her even when she slipped into a non-verbal state. My mother fought the cancer as long as she could. She had dignity up to her last moments.

  • Julie Says:

    Thanks for your post, Jen! My dad died 5 years ago from a complication caused by radiation for the cancer he had many years ago when he was a teenager. In 10 months, we watched my 6’3″ strong, athletic dad go from 190 lbs all the way down to less than 80. He lost all physical strength and looked like a skeleton with skin. However, the one thing he never lost was his dignity. He was an amazing example of how to die with grace, and he never lost his spiritual strength, no matter how bad his physical condition was. It was a privilege for all of us to care for him and to draw from his strength. There were so many beautiful moments during his final days and weeks that we wouldn’t trade for anything. One of the things I really learned from the whole experience is that the dying process really is part of living, and if we deny that, we deny what it is to be fully human.