My Father's "Death With Dignity"

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My father died about two years ago. He was diagnosed with gastric cancer. His doctor gave him six months to a year to live. But he only lived 45 days.

He had never signed a power of attorney or a living will. Nevertheless, my older siblings had his food and fluids withheld because they did not want to be bothered with him.

He was conscious and begging for food and asking for intravenous fluids. The doctor denied it. Food was brought to him on a daily basis until his death ... but he was harnessed to his bed and it was left out of his reach.

It was not until the night before his death I learned that it had been planned by my brother and my father's doctor to allow him to starve, although the doctor had expected him to lose consciousness and not beg for food. My brother has threatened to kill me because I have uncovered what I believe is the motive behind his behavior: he had stolen 22 Social Security checks belonging to my father and cashed them without my father's knowledge.

My father did not "exercise his right to die". He did not "die with dignity". He did not die with the comfort of knowing that he was loved by his six children. Only my sister and I were there for him - and we both felt we had failed to save him. I have to forgive all involved so that I may live.


Posted 6 Sep 2000.

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