Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

Rage against the dying of the light, with Baileys

colette
THE WAY THINGS ARE

Euthanasia is legal in some countries, not in others. It costs to have the privilege of deciding when it’s time to die in comfort, slipping off peacefully surrounded by loved ones. It’s a controversial and a literal means to an end that could be misused by the unscrupulous. If it became law, the definition of who could self-kill with their compos mentis consent would have to be very, very clear.

Suffering that’s unendurable calls for mercy. How many say they’d put down a suffering animal out of kindness yet allow people to linger in unescapable agony until disease slowly destroys them and leaves miserable memories of helplessness behind for those who shared their suffering?

Religion obviously plays a part in such decisions, it’s a sin to take a life even in mercy for some. But as we decide how to live our lives as individuals, should we not be able to die as and when we wish if circumstances permit? But what of those who decide that life is unendurable and choose to enact their own end alone and sad.

A group of friends and I, at a Halloween bash years ago, sat in candlelight speaking about how we would ‘do it’ if we had to end our lives. Back then, we had no idea of what life had in store or how we’d contend with future mental and physical burdens, it was mere ignorant bravado. We’d been telling ghost stories that led to real-life tales of people we knew who had died by their own hand, how they might have been helped by the right words to struggle through whatever was causing them so much pain they couldn’t face another day and offer hope.

One said she might chose drowning, two of us who hailed from a fishing village ruled that out, we’d known too many lives lost at sea and the sorrow of those left without a body to bury. Two lads we knew were in a small boat in the middle of the harbour when they decided they wanted to change places, they lost balance and went overboard. One was saved, one disappeared. The survivor spoke of the sensation of drowning, the terror when his breath gave out, the feeling of suffocation, then the euphoric sense of floating before hands grabbed him to safety. The other lad was found eventually after community prayers and his father endlessly walking the harbour walls aching for recovery. A freak low tide revealed the lad’s body caught in chains tying a boat to a wall.

Another young man, as handsome as any Nordic god, had been out with his girlfriend, they had a fierce row and she broke up with him. He’d had a few drinks and was very unhappy, took his boat out beyond the harbour, vanished. We’ll never know if it was because he was inebriated, wanted to clear his head, lost balance and fell into the sea, or was grieving the breakup and deliberately went into the sea.

Small towns nurture their sad tales especially those around youthful death. A girl decided to take a short cut home after leaving a dance club in a town where everybody knew everybody else, probably thinking it safe to use a dark, old track. A group of boys had been drinking heavily there, they stopped her and it ended in rape. She was able to identify the boy. When the police arrived at the door and his unsuspecting mother called him to come, he took his father’s hunting rifle and killed himself.

There’s also what we feel is a call for help, a suicide attempt that doesn’t end in death but assistance, and there are life endings that literally scream of a state of mind that has completely lost equilibrium.

One friend said, she’d jump off a building, dead before she knew it. The reply, think of the terrible, bone shattering impact and you can’t go back. Now, we speak of infirmity and being a burden. Unanimously we opted for euthanasia but – eased with a wee drop of Baileys Irish Cream.

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