The Right To Die Debate – Illness And The Importance Of Considering Control – Part 4

The Right To Die Debate – Illness And The Importance Of Considering Control – Part 4

by Dr Lisa Debrou - 11th November, 2016


The Right to Die Debate – Illness And The Importance of Considering Control – Part 4

Living with a chronic illness can be stressful and many people will go through a time when they feel completely out of control of their lives.  Learning to live a meaningful life with chronic illness is a challenge, which many people are successful in.  But this can change if an illness is progressive or worsens and causes a marked deterioration in quality of life.  The coping strategies any one of us has will have a tipping point at which they cease to be successful. When quality of life is low and coping strategies have been exhausted, the sense of poor control may filter in again.

When considering the right to die debate, it is important to think about this issue of control with regards to people who have lived with a chronic condition for a long time and it progresses to a terminal stage.   The emphasis now in modern palliative care is on having what is described as a ‘good death’.  What does this mean, and how does this influence the discussion around our right to die?

There is no simple description of what constitutes a good death as this will be very personal and individual.  Some may think of a good death as being pain-free, or being with their loved ones.  For others, the place may be important, for example being at home or in a hospice.  What unifies a good death is a sense of control.  Control over an uncontrollable problem.  Even small elements of control may be helpful at such a time.  If we try to understand why control is important we simply need to look at ourselves for an explanation.  Feeling like we have a sense of control over things is part of our daily life.  We like to control what we eat, what we do and where we go to work.  Right from the moment we break through from being a child to being a young person we are fighting to make our own choices and develop a sense of control over our own lives.  When considering the right to die debate it would be thoughtful to include feelings of control as a consideration.



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