At Deaths Door

Chillingly beautiful. 

The lives of people are invaluable. Young and old, healthy and sick, each person has their own gift to offer the world. But what if the life you lead was about to change as you know it due to an illness that could not be stopped. Today more people are talking about euthanasia as a way to exit this world in a peaceful way. National Public Radio (NPR) published a story about a woman who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and would not remember her children, grandchildren, or the life she once lead. In a decisive manner she was going to end her life once the disease was at the brink of overtaking everything she once knew and loved.

Alix Spiegel, a journalist with NPR, wrote the chillingly beautiful piece about Sandy Bem. His rendition of her death opened a door of hope about the plagued idea of euthanasia. Euthanasia once was connected with Jack Kevorkian, “Doctor Death”. The story of Doctor Death was publicized on major television stations and news articles which led to the nation’s outrage; the idea that someone would want to kill themselves because of their condition instead of letting nature take its course. Storytelling has taken a turn to show that maybe, just maybe, this idea might be helpful to those who do not want to live with the agony of a disease and help their family members cope.     

More media sources have been using the approach the choice is yours and yours alone. The suicide of a loved one leaves a wake of depressed family members and friends, making the situation harder to understand and cope with. But if the person states that this is their objective and the family has the chance to rejoice their life before they are gone does that help? Studies are now being conducted about the choice of assisted suicide or self-euthanasia and the affect on family members. If the loved one shares the news with their family, is it easier for the family to cope with their passing? These preliminary studies are now breaching mainstream society. 

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Those going through this are now willing to document and share their stories with the public. Sharing this endeavor with the family and letting them participate in the process has given many hope that there is relief by rejoicing the life of their loved one before their passing. Media outlets and the storytelling of journalists has brought this information forward. Their suffering and families angst can be a peaceful process. Others believe this is destructive and not a natural way of proceeding with an illness. Sometimes leading to resentment and bitterness if they are in disagreement with the decision. In Sandy Bem’s case, her family was able to honor her life while she was alive and state all the wonderful accomplishments and gifts her life had to offer.


Spiegel, A. (n.d.). How A Woman’s Plan To Kill Herself Helped Her Family Grieve. NPR. Retrieved June 24, 2014, from

Pickert, K. (2009, March 3). Assisted Suicide. Time. Retrieved June 24, 2014, from,8599,1882684,00.html

. (n.d.). . Retrieved June 24, 2014, from

One thought on “At Deaths Door

  1. Your question: “But if the person states that this is their objective and the family has the chance to rejoice their life before they are gone does that help?” is such a poignant and powerful one. I always believed that letting nature take its course is the right way to do things–yet, I take a step back and realize I’ve never myself been in prolonged pain and agony in a hospital bed with loved ones all around waiting… hoping… waiting…


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