An excellent article on The Resurgent points to a disturbing story out of Canada (the source of an increasing number of disturbing stories). An elderly couple, married for over 70 years, decided to commit suicide together. Or, as the media puts it, they “received a doctor assisted death.” Yes, they “received” death. Much like you receive a birthday present or a Christmas bonus.
George and Shirley Brickenden went through a series of macabre farewell ceremonies before offering themselves up to be killed by a trusted physician. They had a reception with the family to celebrate their suicide. The Brickenden children all shared a hearty laugh when George remarked that it felt “good” to be only days away from death. When the time came, they laid in bed together, held hands, and looked lovingly into each other’s eyes as they were injected with poison. Their closest loved ones watched the execution from the foot of the bed.
They are not the first married couple to commit a joint suicide. A couple in the Netherlands had their “deepest wish” granted when they underwent the “procedure” last year. A couple in Oregon had their own wish fulfilled a few months ago. It was claimed originally that euthanasia would be reserved only for individual adults who are terminally ill. Now we treat it like a romantic getaway. And it’s not only for adults and the terminally ill anymore. It’s also for the depressed, alcoholics, and children. The culture of death is a cancer that spreads and consumes and never stops. It whittles away at life on both ends of the spectrums, until only the fittest and healthiest are safe.
Of course, the Left is not concerned about the dystopian implications. They can barely contain their enthusiasm for stories like the Brickendens’. A Canadian blog gushed, “Now that’s love!” A writer for Patheos called the double suicide “truly beautiful.” The Globe and Mail article about George and Shirley’s death was fairly glowing in its depiction. Euthanasia victims always get favorable media coverage. And the one word that we hear over and over again to describe this form of suicide is the one word that least applies: dignity. It is “death with dignity,” we are told.
No, it’s not. It’s exactly the opposite.
It’s reported that George and Shirley lived full and wonderful lives. I hope that this is true. But it makes it all the more devastating that they chose, in the end, to be put down like dogs. Where is the dignity in that? Dignity is found in embracing life and persevering through difficulty. Suicide is the opposite, on both counts. A man of dignity is a man of great self-respect. How can a man respect himself by destroying himself? Self-annihilation and self-respect cannot be the same.
I will be called heartless and cruel for questioning the dignity of suicide. I think it is enormously heartless and cruel to call it dignified. Not only are you encouraging more people to murder themselves by glorifying the choice, but you are very clearly implying that those who choose to live all the way through old age and sickness, until death naturally takes them, are undignified. You are saying that the cancer patient, dying naturally in his bed, lacks dignity. You are saying that the elderly man, who decides to live and cherish every moment that God has granted him, lacks dignity. If euthanasia is “dignified,” it is dignified because you are running from a slow and drawn-out death. Well then what does that say about those who do not run from it?
Many people in our culture are very careful never to besmirch those who choose to kill themselves. As a result, they besmirch those who choose to live. They are so desperate to hold up suicide as this grand and elegant thing that they turn life into a shameful and dirty thing. They hail the courage of a man who kills himself to avoid suffering, and in the process they make a coward of the man who endures it and finds meaning in it. They give dignity to death and remove it from life. And that really is the goal, in the end.
George and Shirely Brickenden may have indeed lived with dignity. But they did not die with it. And that is a terrible tragedy.