Monday, September 08, 2008
5.30pm: Dad is bent over the toilet bowl with a brush in his hand and a scowl on his face. I walk up to him. "Shall I give you a hand?" Dad begins to snigger, abandoning any attempt to make sense of the situation. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our backs to Mum, who paces around the landing with a newly fitted catheter in her hand.
The catheter has been put in by nurse Marianne to enable our GP, who will be with us in half an hour, to give Mum a lethal injection. But instead of having a moment of peace with us, as Marianne suggested, Mum demands that we clean the toilets. Both upstairs and downstairs.
My brother, Maarten, is sitting on the edge of the bath, staring out of the bathroom window.
"Imagine," he mutters. "Her last hour, spent like this."
This is the Netherlands, where voluntary euthanasia is permitted, as well as physician-assisted suicide. This is the day my mother has chosen to die, and the toilets need to be spotless.
The mundane stories of everyday euthanasia,those that don't usually make it into the papers are often the most disturbing. The blockquote above doesn't adequately express the essense of this story. For those who haven't seen the grim, desparate and ultimately tragic side of this debate, I encourage you to read the whole article. It does an excellent job of pointing out that those who choose assisted suicide are more often than not motivated not by pain, butdepression and fear. What is needed is not a quicker death, but hope.