My work is done. Why wait? ~ Eastman Kodak founder George Eastman, in his suicide note written after long enduring intense pain from his degenerating spine.

George Eastman, 1854-1932George Eastman 1854-1932

You’ve probably heard about Brittany Maynard, the young woman with terminal brain cancer who decided to commit suicide earlier this week.

As I started writing this post my sister told me an elderly cousin, closing in on 100 years, had just died. She lived a good, long, and happy life.

Brittany, at the other end of the spectrum of life, was only 29.

Most of us have no idea how long we’ll live. Brittany did know.

Earlier this year Brittany’s doctors told her she had about six months to live. And, they said, she would endure those six months in increasingly intense pain and debilitating suffering. There was no known medication or other cure that could help her, they said.

She recently told CBS her life had become unbearable. She suffered from seizures and “bone-splitting” pain. She had “moments when I’m looking at my husband’s face and I can’t think of his name.” Her life was hell on earth.

Brittany decided to start checking things off her “bucket list”—things she wanted to do before she died. Like visiting Grand Canyon. And other things she wanted to do with her loved ones before it was too late. She did them all, finding joy and fun as she moved into the sunset of her life.

It’s not the number of years we live that counts. It’s the joy we find in each day, in our loved ones in each moment. That’s all that matters.

Before she could legally die by her own hand (with the help of her doctor) she had to move herself and her family to Oregon where physician-assisted suicide is legal.

Then last week, with her loved ones around her in her bedroom, she took that final step. With dignity and without pain. Her suffering was done.

Did she do the “right” thing. It was certainly right for her.

I admit I have strong personal feelings and convictions about all this. I believe we all should be able to die with dignity and without pain.

Another aspect of this issue is purely practical. Here are some sobering facts from Deepak Chopra, MD:

  • 90% of all medical expenses are end-of-life expenses where we prolong suffering instead of alleviating suffering.
  • Nobody benefits from the vast majority of heroic (medical) procedures that are done at the end of life.
  • End-of-life care should be about compassion, kindness, comfort, and peace.

Finally, here are some thoughts from my spirit guides, who often talk about death. The list is in no particular order.

Spirit

  • Ultimately you are the only one who brings death to yourself. No one else has that power over you.
  • You can die peacefully in your bed, in a state of perfect health. You all have the ability to do that.
  • Or, as with Brittany Maynard, you can choose to end your pain permanently.
  • Every death is a suicide. But not always in the way you use the word “suicide.”
  • You often say, when people are suffering from a physical dis-ease, and are in great pain, their death is “a blessing.” It certainly is that.
  • But every other death, even those you consider tragic or untimely, is also a blessing.
  • You all die in the perfect way and perfect time—and by your own choice, at some level of your awareness.
  • Dying is the easiest thing you will ever do. You’ve died hundreds, thousands of times before.
  • When your physical life becomes anything less than joyful, when you are wracked with pain, physical or emotional, death can be a healing.
  • Ideally, you will get to the point in your physical life where you are satisfied, where there’s nothing left you want to do. You’ve done it all and now it’s time to move on to your adventure.
  • It’s all up to you. There is no right or wrong here.
  • Live each day, each moment with joy, love, and peace. You have the power to do that, regardless of your circumstances.

Copyright © 2014 by John Cali

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In this video Brittany movingly discusses her decision to take her own life before the cancer could. She says the most important thing for any of us, no matter how much or little time we have left to live, is to enjoy each day, to be in the present moment. Which is all any of us have anyway.

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Related posts:

Suicide: A Solution?
Suicide Revisited
Doctor Death

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What would you have done if you were in Brittany’s place? Please share your thoughts and comments with us below.

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About John Cali

Writer and publisher John Cali, author of 10 books, talks to ghosts and dead people. He writes about these adventures at his blog and website, and in his upcoming book, Conversations with Spirit: Real Answers To Life’s Pesky Questions, Book 1.

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Website: http://www.GreatWesternPublishing.org