Pain, death, and a right to choose

This post dates back to when my Mother was battling bowel cancer, sixteen years ago. She was an incredibly brave woman, who had endured countless operations to remove the cancer, but looking back now, with every breath she took, her body was dying. Her inner strength could not overcome what she was facing.

I remember walking into ICU to visit her, and walking past her, because she had physically shrank, to the size of a child, her body was in the end skin and bones. I did not recognise my own Mother, and that was incredibly frightening to me.

My last conversation with her was on the 1st of January, a new year, she’d rung me to wish me a Happy New Year. Her voice was faint, and I asked how she was, and she said “oh getting there”. What I found out, after she had died, was that she’d made her own decision to take herself off her heart tablets by then. She and my Dad had spoken about it, and she had made the conscious decision that she had, had enough. That her body could no longer go on. She was weary, exhausted by the battle that had been fought and lost in her body.

She died on the 4th of January, a massive heart attack, finally taking our brave, dearly loved mother. One that she had a hand in.

So endeth my Mother’s bitter battle. And started our family disintegrating. (That is another story for another time).

But in the end, she had chosen this path. She had suffered long enough, and battled so hard, that her body had shrunk. We found out when they autopsied her, that the cancer was everywhere, she was riddled with it. Can you imagine the pain that she must have been experiencing?

It took me a long time to come to terms with my Mother’s decision, but I respect her for making this decision, it was hers to make. What went through her mind in those days after she’d made the decision I’ll never know, but I know she made it because in the end, the pain and suffering was too much for her to bear.

So when I see other people making similar decisions, about their own lives, I respect their decision making. It is their choice, and their lives. They know how much pain they have suffered, and how much more suffering they will endure. It is not my place to tell them that they must soldier on, to put on a brave front, while their body consumes them.

But I do speak as someone who was left out of the decision making process, as someone who was left behind. I would have liked to have spoken to my Mum about her decision, so I wouldn’t have spent ten years afterwards trying to work it out for myself. To have heard it from her…….

So I support a person’s right to choose. That might offend you, or offend your belief system, but having seen both my parents die terrible, painful deaths from cancer, this is my decision. You will no doubt have your own opinion.


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