Physician-assisted dying is a complex and emotional issue. Here is a new perspective done with a leading physician with much direct experience - and who has quit one of his professional medical associations due to their lack of integrity on the topic.
Co-founder, in 1987, of the Zen Hospice Project, the first Buddhist hospice in the U.S., Ostaseski currently heads the Metta Institute, created to provide education and training on spirituality in dying.
Death-and-dying usually goes with I-don't-want-to-talk about-it. Katy Butler wants us to talk about it. She worries, though, about the culture of death-denial, and about the lack of language when we do try to talk.
Why can't we offer dignity to those that know they are dying, that know that they will die in excruciating pain and will spend their last days suffering? Why can't we respect the wishes of those who want to exit gracefully, respectfully, surrounded by those they love?
My friend M has died, just shy of the old year's end and significantly decreasing the joy of the new. But her dying was full of life lessons about saying goodbye, being grateful and trying to ring in a better planet for the days ahead.
Perhaps doctors will eventually all be adequately trained in pain management and palliative care. But even then -- and "then" is a very long way off -- must the doctor always know best? Why can't I, the patient, the person facing my own dying, be the one in control?
For those of us grounded in end-of-life care and choice, the earth shook this week. Did you feel it? The shaking hasn't stopped, but the religious foundation from which aid-in-dying opponents build their strength cracked.