The ‘death with dignity’ movement gives in to despair and preys on terminally ill patients when they are most vulnerable.
On Dec. 30, as snowflakes fell outside his window, my husband and the love of my life, J.J. Hanson, took his last breath. He was 36 years old. I was with him, holding our two young sons in my arms. We had known the day would come — J.J. had been living with terminal brain cancer for three and a half years. But that was more than three years longer than his doctors had expected.
Living through that kind of illness day-to-day is a constant struggle that requires immense courage and great strength. J.J. had both. Even then, he — like many people who receive terminal prognoses — went through dark periods of depression.
Struggling against despair
Our struggle was taking place about the same time Brittany Maynard’s story made headlines across the country. Maynard suffered from the same cancer as J.J. and was roughly the same age, but she famously decided to end her own life through assisted suicide in Oregon and to advocate its legalization in her home state of California.
There’s no telling what would have happened to J.J. and our family if lethal pills were available to him during that dark period. What we do know is that, as J.J. said, the support and hope of loved ones carried him past that difficult time and toward a different conclusion than the one Maynard reached.
Enduring in hope
If our experience taught us anything, it is to hold on to hope for yourself and for others around you, especially in the face of life-threatening illness. You could be improving their lives, as well as your own.