LETTER: Langley fence-sitter wishes Mom could have been helped to die peacefully

A former hospice volunteer is torn about medically assisted dying, seeing both sides.

Dear Editor,

I am a fence-sitter.

I prayed with my 64-year-old mom while she was dying at the Cross Cancer Clinic. I would say “amen” and she would faintly whisper “pray again.”

She eventually asked me to help her die.

She understood the import of her request to me and I’m sure she was concerned about what might happen if I had somehow tried. (That was several years ago). Even if I could, what would people think of me was my response – which haunts me still. I was dozing when flashing lights and noises filled the room.A nurse rushed in and stood helplessly by as mom writhed and moaned in the grip of seizure and hemorrhage.

Would it have affected a nearby patient if a kind doctor had entered the room and administered medications to end her suffering? (Most hospice patients have private rooms now). I could not refer to that as “killing” mom.It too would be unfair to say that mom wanted to commit suicide. She wanted to live, but not to endure agony when she was moved for bathing or a bedding change. Would anyone want her to experience the torment of being transported to another facility, perhaps across town on icy roads?

After her death, I took hospice training and joined some wonderful people for five years as a volunteer visitor in Abbotsford. I imagine that some of our number then, as now would have been for, against, or like me, betwixt and between in this dilemma. What I am pretty certain of is that the care and compassion given to any patient will not be compromised by any hospice volunteer regardless of their point- of- view.

Judy Lee, Langley

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