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Helping Mom starve to death
World Magazine ^ | 8/26/11 | Marcia Segelstein

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 it’s because she chose to write a book about it in the first place. Maybe it’s 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 Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper. The subheading of the article read, “They were never close—but then Jane agreed to help her ailing mother starve herself to death. And that shocking pact brought them together.”

Jane’s mother, Estelle, wasn’t terminally ill. She was 88 years old, partially paralyzed, and unable to speak after a series of strokes. By Jane’s 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 mother’s 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 shouldn’t 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]he’s 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 society’s institutions have a pressing moral duty to reform our failing systems of care for the fragile old and dying. Jane Gross’s excellent book can help us do better on all these fronts.”

We can do better on this front, and it shouldn’t involve “twitching with impatience” for someone to die.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: assistedsuicide; euthanasia; moralabsolutes; prolife
We can do better on this front, and it shouldn’t involve “twitching with impatience” for someone to die.

Very true!

1 posted on 09/03/2011 2:10:48 PM PDT by wagglebee
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To: cgk; Coleus; cpforlife.org; narses; Salvation; 8mmMauser
Pro-Life Ping
2 posted on 09/03/2011 2:11:39 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: BykrBayb; floriduh voter; Lesforlife; Sun
Ping
3 posted on 09/03/2011 2:12:44 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: 185JHP; 230FMJ; AKA Elena; Albion Wilde; Aleighanne; Alexander Rubin; Amos the Prophet; ...
Moral Absolutes Ping!

Freepmail wagglebee to subscribe or unsubscribe from the moral absolutes ping list.

FreeRepublic moral absolutes keyword search
[ Add keyword moral absolutes to flag FR articles to this ping list ]


4 posted on 09/03/2011 2:13:54 PM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: wagglebee

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.


5 posted on 09/03/2011 2:16:50 PM PDT by kittymyrib
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To: wagglebee

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.


6 posted on 09/03/2011 2:21:44 PM PDT by ZinGirl
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To: wagglebee

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.


7 posted on 09/03/2011 2:26:59 PM PDT by Georgia Girl 2 (The only purpose of a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have dropped.)
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To: wagglebee

good gawd what is happening to the human race?


8 posted on 09/03/2011 2:27:01 PM PDT by GeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Happiness)
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To: wagglebee

I always understood starvation was an agonizing death. Can you imagine sitting there and watching your mother die through your conscious inaction?


9 posted on 09/03/2011 2:29:33 PM PDT by AEMILIUS PAULUS (It is a shame that when these people give a riot)
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To: AEMILIUS PAULUS
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.

10 posted on 09/03/2011 2:33:40 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: ZinGirl

“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.

Mine, too.


11 posted on 09/03/2011 2:34:04 PM PDT by freeangel ( (free speech is only good until someone else doesn't like it)
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To: freeangel
a very special time for us....hope it was for you, too.

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.

12 posted on 09/03/2011 2:40:38 PM PDT by ZinGirl
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To: AEMILIUS PAULUS
Can you imagine sitting there and watching your mother die through your conscious inaction?

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.

13 posted on 09/03/2011 2:43:12 PM PDT by BaylorDad (I can't always buy American, but when I can, it's not UAW!)
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To: GeronL

14 posted on 09/03/2011 2:45:21 PM PDT by Morgana (I don't speak much...............but when I do....)
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To: BaylorDad

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.


15 posted on 09/03/2011 2:52:35 PM PDT by ProtectOurFreedom
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To: wagglebee
“As the days passed, I watched the hands of the clock from my perch in a corner of my mother’s room,” Jane writes."

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.


16 posted on 09/03/2011 3:01:10 PM PDT by BykrBayb (Somewhere, my flower is there. ~ Þ)
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To: wagglebee
We can do better on this front, and it shouldn’t involve “twitching with impatience” for someone to die.

Very true!

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...

17 posted on 09/03/2011 3:03:54 PM PDT by MarkBsnr (I would not believe in the Gospel, if the authority of the Catholic Church did not move m to do so.)
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To: AEMILIUS PAULUS

‘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.


18 posted on 09/03/2011 3:08:09 PM PDT by bboop (Stealth Tutor)
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To: wagglebee

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.


19 posted on 09/03/2011 3:09:21 PM PDT by BykrBayb (Somewhere, my flower is there. ~ Þ)
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To: ZinGirl
Perhaps you missed this part, which is completely different from what you've described concerning your father's situation.

Jane’s mother, Estelle, wasn’t 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.

20 posted on 09/03/2011 3:25:51 PM PDT by BykrBayb (Somewhere, my flower is there. ~ Þ)
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To: wagglebee
What a fine way to reward the woman who brought you into this world. If anyone knew the history I had with my parents they'd probably say I would have been justified in helping at least my old man to die but I take the Ten Commandments seriously enough to honor my father and my mother in spite of what home life they gave me. This woman appears to have been consumed by the current humanist monster, thriving in the in the colon of that beast. Her new book is just her coming into the light of day for all to see that she's passed totally through the colon of the beast and on leaving the rectum of secular humanism is now exactly the pile of excrement the secular humanist religion always produces.

The staff that went along with her all deserve prison at least and were it up to me they'd live on nothing but bread and water for the balance of their lives. This is conspiracy to commit murder and murder for hire (payment of accomplices to not intervene has been held to be equivalent to murder for hire given the equality of guilt in a first degree murder) if anyone were to pursue it but no, people these days will buy her book and sympathize then start planning the murder of those they find inconvenient.

21 posted on 09/03/2011 3:29:16 PM PDT by Rashputin (Obama is insane but kept medicated and on golf courses to hide it)
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To: ProtectOurFreedom; ZinGirl; BaylorDad

Your situations were entirely different. This woman was in a home and had nothing physically wrong with her (she was probably depressed) and got a daughter with whom she had apparently never gotten along to arrange “protocols” for her to starve to death.

I doubt that any of you are defending the fact that you sat in a nursing home eagerly awaiting the death of a mother you had never liked very much anyway. Maybe you should read the article first.


22 posted on 09/03/2011 3:30:20 PM PDT by livius
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To: BykrBayb

“They are equating natural death with a calculated decision to starve and dehydrate someone to death when she wasn’t otherwise dying.”

My dad made that decision for himself and did it at age 92.


23 posted on 09/03/2011 3:52:17 PM PDT by dalereed (uity wise!)
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To: dalereed

That’s tragic.


24 posted on 09/03/2011 3:57:58 PM PDT by BykrBayb (Somewhere, my flower is there. ~ Þ)
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To: wagglebee

“Individuals, families, medical professionals, and our society’s institutions have a pressing moral duty to reform our failing systems of care for the fragile old and dying. Jane Gross’s excellent book can help us do better on all these fronts.”

I agree that there is something seriously wrong with a system that allows tens of thousands of people to slowly waste away in a nursing home and act as a drain on society.

Ideally everyone ought to be active or at least somewhat active to the end and then die of something quick and relatively painless (naturally; I didn’t say euthanize people). There is absolutely no reason for anybody to suffer a slow, horrible end where their faculties leave them one-by-one.


25 posted on 09/03/2011 3:58:16 PM PDT by Strk321
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To: Strk321
There is absolutely no reason for anybody to suffer a slow, horrible end where their faculties leave them one-by-one.

Unless you are arguing for euthanasia, this is precisely how many people die. I've seen it with both of my parents and my father in law. It is a sad fact of life. All of them had the best medical care possible, but when the body is at the end, there is simply nothing you can do.

26 posted on 09/03/2011 4:02:22 PM PDT by ProtectOurFreedom
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To: wagglebee

I accused staff of sneaking her ice cubes when my back was turned.

She wasn’t starved to death, she was dehydrated to death. How pleasant. If it took 13 days someone probably was sneaking ice cubes to her. Bravo to them


27 posted on 09/03/2011 4:02:22 PM PDT by Figment ("A communist is someone who reads Marx.An anti-communist is someone who understands Marx" R Reagan)
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To: ProtectOurFreedom

You want my opinion, I think inactivity is the biggest killer of old people. Most of them in homes literally have nothing to do but stare at the walls.

Generally people who keep their mind active do tend to age better. I’m not saying you’re going to be what you were when you were 20 of course, but...


28 posted on 09/03/2011 4:10:36 PM PDT by Strk321
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To: ProtectOurFreedom

In that regard, my family has fared quite well. The worst was probably my grandmother (who was in a home). She had a lot of little weaknesses that all added up, but her end came rather abruptly from a stroke.

She could have done a lot better than she did, but also at the same time I reflect that there are people much worse off. Some of her problems were her own fault too because she never exercised and also destroyed a kidney because of popping prescription drugs for years.


29 posted on 09/03/2011 4:21:20 PM PDT by Strk321
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To: BykrBayb

why is it tragic?

His knees wouldn’t function any longer and he wanted out since he couldn’t do everything for himself any longer.

He had us all come to visit him and explained his decision and no one in the family tried to stop him which I think is good.

If I ever became an invalid or had to have people care for me I will do the same!


30 posted on 09/03/2011 4:25:00 PM PDT by dalereed (uity wise!)
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To: wagglebee
I was twitching with impatience. I wanted my mother to hurry up and die, and was ashamed to admit it.”

See Jane. See Jane murder her mom. Kill, Jane, kill.

But then write a book about watching every detail and confessing your twitching, to make it easier for other soccer moms to take the next step in their development. After all, as long as talking points are provided to the group, anything can be accomplished.

Absolutely anything.

31 posted on 09/03/2011 4:34:00 PM PDT by Talisker (History will show the Illuminati won the ultimate Darwin Award.)
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To: dalereed

“If I ever became an invalid or had to have people care for me I will do the same!”

Same here. I hope when my end comes, I die of a quick heart attack or something. Slowly falling to pieces in a nursing home is about the absolute worst possible way to end.


32 posted on 09/03/2011 4:35:58 PM PDT by Strk321
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To: ZinGirl

“Dad knew what he was doing”

You are right. They know.


33 posted on 09/03/2011 4:36:11 PM PDT by freeangel ( (free speech is only good until someone else doesn't like it)
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To: wagglebee

Her mother wasn’t even terminally ill.

Vile.


34 posted on 09/03/2011 4:52:42 PM PDT by little jeremiah (Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. CSLewis)
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To: Rashputin
What a fine way to reward the woman who brought you into this world. If anyone knew the history I had with my parents they'd probably say I would have been justified in helping at least my old man to die but I take the Ten Commandments seriously enough to honor my father and my mother in spite of what home life they gave me. This woman appears to have been consumed by the current humanist monster, thriving in the in the colon of that beast. Her new book is just her coming into the light of day for all to see that she's passed totally through the colon of the beast and on leaving the rectum of secular humanism is now exactly the pile of excrement the secular humanist religion always produces.

The staff that went along with her all deserve prison at least and were it up to me they'd live on nothing but bread and water for the balance of their lives. This is conspiracy to commit murder and murder for hire (payment of accomplices to not intervene has been held to be equivalent to murder for hire given the equality of guilt in a first degree murder) if anyone were to pursue it but no, people these days will buy her book and sympathize then start planning the murder of those they find inconvenient.

Very well said!

35 posted on 09/03/2011 4:56:45 PM PDT by little jeremiah (Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. CSLewis)
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To: little jeremiah

I personally despise secular humanism and find it an extremely dishonest, hypocritical ideology.


36 posted on 09/03/2011 5:04:41 PM PDT by Strk321
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To: Strk321; savagesusie

Savagesusie writes great comments about secular huamnism - what it is, where it comes from, its roots, and so on. If she doesn’t respond to this (maybe she’s busy etc) do a search on her comments, they’re like short articles sometimes. You’ll be glad you did.


37 posted on 09/03/2011 5:07:41 PM PDT by little jeremiah (Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. CSLewis)
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To: dalereed

It’s tragic for anyone to put so little value on their own life, or that of a family member. Or even a stranger for that matter. Life is a gift from God. Any time somebody spits in God’s eye and throws away that precious gift, I see that as a tragedy. Any time somebody considers themselves or someone else disposable, I see that as a tragedy. Any time somebody thinks they don’t deserve to live because they’re too much of a burden, and their own family agrees, I see that as a tragedy.


38 posted on 09/03/2011 5:45:27 PM PDT by BykrBayb (Somewhere, my flower is there. ~ Þ)
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Comment #39 Removed by Moderator

To: wagglebee

My oldest sibling had a malignant brain tumor, but at 58, he was otherwise quite healthy. His wife starved him to death. My sisters and I found out about it after he died. She was quite open about it, as if it were the most normal thing in the world.

We do not speak to her anymore.

My brothers both died on September 5, one in 1989, and the other in 1990.


40 posted on 09/03/2011 7:26:59 PM PDT by TheOldLady (FReepmail me to get ON or OFF the ZOT LIGHTNING ping list.)
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To: Strk321

I do not want to die slowly, I want to die quick.
This daughter has some severe mental issues.
Her mother was not terminally ill, and I am surprised the nursing home went along with this plan.
I cannot imagine wanting your mother to die, when your mother does not have a painful, terminal illness.
Sick, very sick.


41 posted on 09/03/2011 7:28:46 PM PDT by kaila
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To: livius
you weren't there in either case. however, it is reasonable to understand if an 88-yr-old is deciding to do no more.

being 88, partially paralyzed, etc. hardly qualifies for "nothing physically wrong with her".

perhaps she was wiser than anyone else around her at the nursing home trying to potentially, what, cure her?

Our bodies know. Enough is enough. It happens all the time.... not everyone writes a book about it.

42 posted on 09/03/2011 7:43:51 PM PDT by ZinGirl
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To: kaila

“I do not want to die slowly, I want to die quick.”

Don’t we all. I admire my grandfather in that way. Died at 74 of a quick heart thing. Lived a fairly decent lifespan and got to see all his grandchildren, but also died still able-bodied, active, and with his dignity intact. He was aware for some years that he had a bad heart and showed no interest in getting surgery. And I think that’s exactly how he wanted to go.

From my perspective, if you end your days as a decrepit husk in a nursing home, you did something wrong.

How to die:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_LaLanne

How to not die:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sammy_Baugh

As for this:

“This daughter has some severe mental issues.
Her mother was not terminally ill, and I am surprised the nursing home went along with this plan.
I cannot imagine wanting your mother to die, when your mother does not have a painful, terminal illness.”

This woman’s mother was (despite her strokes) obviously still in complete possession of her mental faculties since the two of them both devised this “plan” together. While I can’t fault the old lady in the sense that she herself made the decision to die, the home should not have helped them go along with this.

In short, her condition could not have been _that_ bad. This was not an Alzheimer’s patient or some other moribund person.


43 posted on 09/03/2011 8:02:11 PM PDT by Strk321
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To: All
Pinged from Terri Dailies


44 posted on 09/04/2011 10:38:05 AM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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