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Posts Tagged ‘suicide’

I recently watched the documentary How to Die in Oregon, directed by Peter Richardson.

I don’t think that I have ever cried so much watching a film as I did in this one.

“In 1994, Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. As a result, any individual whom two physicians diagnose as having less than six months to live can lawfully request a fatal dose of barbiturate to end his or her life. Since 1994, more than 500 Oregonians have taken their mortality into their own hands. In How to Die in Oregon, filmmaker Peter Richardson gently enters the lives of the terminally ill as they consider whether – and when – to end their lives by lethal overdose. Richardson examines both sides of this complex, emotionally charged issue. What emerges is a life-affirming, staggeringly powerful portrait of what it means to die with dignity.”

It is very emotional and really pulls at your heartstrings. I mean, the main character in this film, Cody, is a 53-year-old-woman, who says goodbye to her family, and it is ALL caught on film. Right down to the very end. The very end. It is actually quite beautiful (and obviously ridiculously sad). The scene is a good 5 minutes or so, filmed outside the house, angled at Cody’s bedroom window with the curtains drawn. It is evening, and the light emanating from her window is very soft and inviting. We hear very faintly what is being said inside the bedroom: the goodbyes, the love, the last few breathes. I had goosebumps watching it.

I couldn’t help but wonder if my grandfather would have wanted to access his right to physician-assisted suicide, if it had been legal in Canada.

Assisted suicide is illegal in Canada, though I feel that within the next decade, it will likely be challenged so many times that eventually this will change. In 1992, Sue Rodriguez challenged the Supreme Court on this law, as she suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease and wanted to end her life with dignity. She stated to the Court: “If I cannot give consent to my own death, whose body is this? Who owns my life?” And its true, is it not? Why do we need permission from the State to take our own life?

Check out the trailer for How to Die in Oregon.

This interview with the director is also really interesting.

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1. Someone’s blog entry today read:
“It’s GREAT to be alive!” When is the last time you woke up in the morning and felt like saying that expression? When is it that you woke up with a smile on your face? What would it take for that to happen to you again? Do it!
What I love about this is how simple and instructional it is. Think hard. When were you last real happy? Like REAL happy! Not just pleased, or content. When did you last smile without realizing you were smiling? When did you last laugh so hard your stomach hurt? Who do you feel most happy around? Why were you so happy? What will it take to feel like that again? Got it? Now go do it.

2. In response to the multiple youth suicides over the last month and a half, I came across this article which looks at the tolerance of hate in Western (specifically American) culture.

3. This pizza looks absolutely mouth-watering!

4. On Thanksgiving Monday I went to visit my grandpa, who I had not seen since the end of May. My grandpa was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a few years ago, and this past June he moved out of the home he shared with my grandma and into a government-run facility for long-term care of seniors. The facility is called LeisureWorld. Sure, this name is suitable for the half of the facility which houses seniors who are still mobile, still active and essentially still ‘with it’. But for the other half of the facility, it really doesn’t work.

To be honest, I had not gone to visit my grandpa because I was scared. When my mum had moved her dad into the facility, I remember the look on her face when she was describing the facility, his room, his surroundings, the other people there. It freaked me out. And the thought of going there to see my grandpa in a place where he didn’t really belong, where he was separated from his loved ones, where he would eventually die, was effing scary. So yeah, I put off going to see him, I made plans and excuses and didn’t find the courage to go until this weekend. Thanksgiving dinner just wasn’t the same without him there — we didn’t hear the usual “as long as it’s free” jokes, or hear his booming laugh, or feel our hearts give a little sigh when he would call Grammy “little girl” after so many years together. So I felt it was time to go.

You know what? It was just as scary as I thought it would be. It was extremely intimidating walking into the facility, where hallways are clogged with seniors in wheelchairs, most of them staring blankly, some asking you to help them, others asking you to take them with you, and still others just happy to see people. As we entered my grandpa’s room, we found him asleep on the bed, and I immediately noticed how skinny he was. He hasn’t been eating much over the last few months. My grandma gently woke him, and we all hugged and kissed him our hello’s, to which I got a smile, and silently hoped real hard that he remembered me as we embraced.

Anyway, overall the visit went well. My grandpa made very little eye contact, and most of what is said to him does not always register. He’s trying though, I can tell. My mum and grandma decorated his room with pictures of his family, of his life as a pilot, of his favourite dog, and other pictures. I snapped a few quick shots of these. I’m in the process of a poem, but it’s not ready yet.

5. I’ve fallen behind on posting about my yoga challenge. I’ll get back on that soon.

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