Skip to comments.Helping Mom starve to death
Posted on 09/03/2011 2:10:44 PM PDT by wagglebee
Jane Gross, a retired reporter for The New York Times, has written a book about helping her mother die. And while euthanasia and assisted suicide are deeply disturbing but hardly new concepts, something about her story is especially upsetting. Perhaps in part its because she chose to write a book about it in the first place. Maybe its because my own elderly parents are suddenly facing serious mental and physical problems that I find Gross story so repugnant.
The book, A Bittersweet Season, was recently excerpted in Britains Daily Mail newspaper. The subheading of the article read, They were never closebut then Jane agreed to help her ailing mother starve herself to death. And that shocking pact brought them together.
Janes mother, Estelle, wasnt terminally ill. She was 88 years old, partially paralyzed, and unable to speak after a series of strokes. By Janes account, she was humiliated by her helplessness. Estelle communicated her desire to die to Jane by using a cardboard alphabet chart. Together they agreed on using a process called VSED (voluntary stopping of eating and drinking).
The nursing home staff agreed to their plan. As the days passed, I watched the hands of the clock from my perch in a corner of my mothers room, Jane writes. They seemed to have stopped moving. She soon became a curiosity, as staff stood in her doorway to watch the old lady who would not die. [It took 13 days instead of the expected week.] I accused staff of sneaking her ice cubes when my back was turned. I was twitching with impatience. I wanted my mother to hurry up and die, and was ashamed to admit it.
The positive blurbs for the book on Amazon probably shouldnt surprise me. In this day and age, such actions, and having the courage to write about them, draw praise. The Boston Globe reports, Gross writes movingly about the toll it takes on her and other caregivers. . . . [S]hes serious about documenting the often hidden workload borne by middle-aged daughters and sons. The Seattle Times praises Gross as an incisive critic of our systems and institutions. Commonweal lauds her for bringing up such a difficult topic, writing, Individuals, families, medical professionals, and our societys institutions have a pressing moral duty to reform our failing systems of care for the fragile old and dying. Jane Grosss excellent book can help us do better on all these fronts.
We can do better on this front, and it shouldnt involve twitching with impatience for someone to die.
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Preparing us for ObamaCare’s death panels. The elderly just don’t have the “quality of life” that merits having them hanging around. Wonder if this hideous daughter inherited anything in the bargain? Life insurance should not pay benefits for this kind of suicide.
this happens all the time....but isn’t labeled anything and no one writes a book about it.
this woman was 88....not an otherwise healthy 50-year-old.
my father waved away food and drink towards the end. his body was done. giving fluids or other nourishment when the body is thinking about shutting down does more harm than good...and causes pain.
my father died at home with family around.
I am a firm believer in embracing the death that God brings you. Leaving this world is harder for some than others. There is a reason for it even if we don’t understand it.
good gawd what is happening to the human race?
I always understood starvation was an agonizing death. Can you imagine sitting there and watching your mother die through your conscious inaction?
She probably passed the time thinking about how much money she could make off her book.
“my father waved away food and drink towards the end. his body was done. giving fluids or other nourishment when the body is thinking about shutting down does more harm than good...and causes pain.
my father died at home with family around.
i worried and fretted and tried to get him to take, "just a sip"....assuming (WRONGLY!) that it would help him.
God provided for us in life...and He provides in death. As usual, we think we know better.
Dad knew what he was doing.....and as i helped him move his feet, i realized he was right. His ankles were swelling as the kidneys were shutting down and fluid was collecting. More water would only give the kidneys more trouble....and suffering galore.
Dad was peaceful and needed nothing else from this life. All the stuff we needed, water, food, etc., didn't matter anymore. That's how it is supposed to be. I stopped judging by my standards and allowed God to take over. We had a beautiful evening.
That is an insulting conclusion. Read Post #6. My mom passed at aged 89 and we tried everything to get her to eat. She reached a point where she didn't want to eat or take any more pills. We are at peace because she now is. It was a sad time.
Don’t be so hard on AEMILIUS PAULUS, BD. I suspect he hasn’t gone through your experience yet. Until you do, you cannot understand it.
My Mom passed about 10 months ago at 83 under the same circumstances as you Dad. During the last 3 weeks, she would scrunch up her face and push food and drink away. We could barely get her to take sips of water, no matter how much encouragement we offered. My sisters and I were worried sick about it, but luckily Mom had excellent care in a convalescent center and the nurses and managers knew what was going on and could advise us. That comforted us greatly. Mom slowly faded away over about a two week period and left us peacefully in her sleep. As with you, my sisters and I are at peace now as is Mom. It was indeed a sad and very trying time.
That actually reminded me of Kevin Carter's photo which won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. It's too graphic to post here. This will do.
Both of my parents died from battling cancer long term. My mother died because she (an RN) hid her ovarian cancer symptoms far too long and my father died (prostate cancer) of her dying. However, exactly none of we six kids were twitching with impatience and we profoundly and tearfully celebrated their lives and thanked them as best as we could at their deathbeds and at the funerals for all that they had done for each one of us.
My wife was profoundly influenced by my mother and while she does not resemble her in size, shape, or personality, she recognized all the best in her, and has taken that best to her heart.
As for me, I am the lesser son of greater sires...
‘through your conscious inaction’ YES — and she was suspicious that someone was giving her mom icecubes! Wow, that would be really awful! For the daughter, I think. Not so for the mom, who could have, if she’d really wanted to, refused them. But maybe dying of thirst was more than she had bargained for, but since she could not SPEAK ....
Disgusting. And the woman has terrible feelings of guilt, ‘but IS ABLE (??) to ignore them” and push past her conscience to do something truly reprehensible.
Several people have commented on this thread without having bothered to read the original post. They are equating natural death with a calculated decision to starve and dehydrate someone to death when she wasn’t otherwise dying.
Janes mother, Estelle, wasnt terminally ill.
Very often, a dying person will reject food and water. They still like to have their mouths moistened. That sounds like what happened with your father. That is not what happened with Estelle.
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