My mother, Jeanne, was put on hospice at the age of 99 due to scarring in her lungs and heart problems. She was a loving mother with a unique sense of humor and cared deeply for her family. Even at the end of her life and at such advanced age she stayed cognitively sharp.
The last few years of her life were met with an increasing loss of independence. Everything she needed she had to ask for and she came from a generation that didn’t want to ask for help. Her loss of autonomy greatly diminished her quality of life and created much anxiety for her.
She said she was suffering and expressed a readiness to pass, often stating “I hope it happens soon.” Once she even asked me if there was something that I could do to help her. I told her that there was nothing I could do. “I guess I’d be worried about you if you had a plan,” was my mom’s reply – Jeanne was an unintentionally funny woman.
In the end, my mother caught a cold which weakened her considerably and lasted six days to her death. Just a week before, she had said, “This would be a good time for me to go.” My mother had specified that she only wanted comfort measures and fortunately, I was there to ensure her wishes were honored.
My mother died on January 26, 2019, at the age of 100.
I wish my mother would have had the option of medical aid in dying so she could have died when she was ready, instead of continuing to suffer. I wish she could have died at home, as she preferred, with her family present to say goodbye.
I urge Minnesota lawmakers to listen to stories from their constituents. If they understood the suffering produced by diminished quality of life at the end of life they would come to the conclusion that medical aid in dying should be an option for those facing imminent death. The key word is “option” – there needs to be options to suit varying situations, beliefs, and values.