Letting someone you love die
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25-01-2015, 05:55 PM
Letting someone you love die
Preface: I considered initially putting this the Casual Coffeehouse, as it was meant to be a general discussion about what you would do. But given the nature of the topic, that people might share their own experiences, and that moreover I know not where talking about my experience is going to lead, I've erred on the side of caution and placed it here.

So, the question is this: you have someone whom you love just as much as is possible, but they're a fundamentalist and you're an atheist. Then the day comes when their life is in the balance and you have the power to choose:

1. Do as they wish, but see them die
2. Override their wishes and see them live

Case in point: my mother was a JW and since she joined the faith I had been dreading the day that I might have to withold consent for a blood transfusion, in order to respect her wishes. Being not only an atheist but a person who strongly supports the use of such techniques to prolong life, it is completely against my ethics to withold such a procedure.

Fate has a funny way of listening into your thoughts as lo and behold, I found myself with the power (including the lack of a living will) to withold treatment to my mother, now laying heavily sedated in hospital and suffering from cancrr which was only treatable with surgery. Surgery she would not get if I supported her choice to forgo blood transfusions, prohibited under the JW credo.

Knowing that there was no afterlife waiting for her, no rational reason to withhold transfusion, that when she was gone, she'd know nothing but I would mourn, and the possibility I could challenge her instruction, I nevertheless respected her wishes and watched her die.

I don't look back in regret because for me, respecting the wishes of the individual is paramount. But what do you think?

I'm curious to hear all arguments regardless of my feelings, so please feel free to offer up contrary views. But for me personally, this question is one of the most fundamental ethical questions we can ever face and one where I hope we know where we're going to stand.

"I don't mind being wrong...it's a time I get to learn something new..."
Me.
N.B: I routinely make edits to posts to correct grammar or spelling, or to restate a point more clearly. I only notify edits if they materially change meaning.
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25-01-2015, 06:19 PM
RE: Letting someone you love die
Well, I believe that a person should have complete say over their OWN life. If you accept the task of deciding for her, you should respect her will. She may have other reasons too, it depends on why she is having a transfusion and what the outlook is for her future and if she is ok with that life.

So I see the choice as either respect her will or refuse to be the one who decides.

It is different when they decide for their children - I do not believe they should have that right.

Both my own mother and my husband decided about their own lives and when they wanted to exit. I didn't like to see them go in the least, but I can't live their life for them and forcing them to live in a decrepit body and suffer against their will is unfathomable for me.

My mom refused any more dialysis, my husband refused the hospital, period. It's their right, and I sure as heck hope someone respects my wishes if I don't manage to pre-empt the situation.

[Image: dobie.png]Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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25-01-2015, 06:21 PM
RE: Letting someone you love die
I think that when dealing with an adult, the decision is theirs regardless of why they made the choice they did.

I caught some flack from people for refusing chemo when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. But I made an informed decision about my own health care.

My dad made the choice to stop cancer treatments. He also made an informed decision that I fully understood and supported. He passed away shortly after but the cancer wasn't his only health issue.

See here they are the bruises some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. - JF

We're all mad here. The Cheshire Cat
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25-01-2015, 06:33 PM
RE: Letting someone you love die
She had the absolute right to be treated as she wished.
You did the right thing to honor her wishes.
She was well aware in the long lead-up to the fateful day the possible outcome.
You done good.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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25-01-2015, 06:33 PM
RE: Letting someone you love die
I'm really, really sorry about your mother.

I luckily never had to face something like this, and I hope I never will, but my gut reply would be to give consent.

On a more pondered thought, I'd have to know some things like: is it worth it? Odds of success? And if it succeeds, will she be better, or is this only to prolong the unavoidable soon ending?

It's a very tricky topic and I don't think there is one correct answer. If the situation arises, I'll always seek the solution that provides benefits to the highest number of people involved.

But that's me speaking as an outsider on the matter.

Much support to you.

孤独 - The Out Crowd
Life is a flash of light between two eternities of darkness.
[Image: Schermata%202014-10-24%20alle%2012.39.01.png]
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25-01-2015, 07:44 PM
RE: Letting someone you love die
I think you did the right thing for your mum. You respected her wishes and from an empathic point of view i suppose we all wish that our final wishes are observed by the ones closest to us, even though we wont be around to see it.

Very selfless.

I feel so much, and yet I feel nothing.
I am a rock, I am the sky, the birds and the trees and everything beyond.
I am the wind, in the fields in which I roar. I am the water, in which I drown.
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25-01-2015, 08:23 PM
RE: Letting someone you love die
(25-01-2015 06:33 PM)The Polyglot Atheist Wrote:  It's a very tricky topic and I don't think there is one correct answer. If the situation arises, I'll always seek the solution that provides benefits to the highest number of people involved.

The person 'involved' is the person making the choice because the outcome directly affects them. The highest number of people involved is therefore - one.

See here they are the bruises some were self-inflicted and some showed up along the way. - JF

We're all mad here. The Cheshire Cat
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25-01-2015, 09:03 PM
RE: Letting someone you love die
Agreed with the others who post that respecting the wishes of the individual should be the the focus. The only time I could see it being reasonable to not follow those wishes is if those decisions were made under duress when the person is not in their right frame of mind. For instance, someone who has severe depression should not automatically be given the tools to take their own life.
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25-01-2015, 09:13 PM
RE: Letting someone you love die
As an adult your mom had every right to make that choice and you did the right thing.

Just imagine what it would have been like if you had not granted her wishes and she would have woken up in that hospital bed knowing you had betrayed her.

I’m sorry for your loss, truly.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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25-01-2015, 11:13 PM
RE: Letting someone you love die
First of all, sorry about your mom. Hug

I hopefully will never be faced with this kind of decision but I agree with Dom, you should respect her wishes. Something else to think about is that what happens if you do the treatment and she lives but resents you for going against her wishes? Now you have her anger towards you and when she eventually dies (maybe many years from now), she may still resent you. Which is worse?

"If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.
The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."
- Paul Dirac
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