Letter: End of life decisions are not ours to make

End of life decisions are not ours to make

To the editor:

I read with interest Rev. Bruce Teague and Deborah Golden Alecson's letters of Nov. 4 regarding the "Death with Dignity" law. I agree with Rev. Teague and disagree with Ms. Alecson. Certainly, end-of-life issues are difficult, and I'm sorry for Ms. Alecson's personal losses as she describes them.

While Ms. Alecson's letter supporting H1991 is reasoned, she argues that "death with dignity is not the same thing as suicide." Webster disagrees, defining suicide as "the act or an instance of intentionally killing oneself." Redefining a term doesn't help win an argument.

Death is the logical conclusion of terminal illness, she argues, but death is also the logical conclusion of birth. It's where life ends for us all. Death is sacred, and the death of one of God's children pains Him, as it does us, especially if that child has fallen out of grace. For me the key questions are: to whom do you give sovereignty and why?

According to St. Augustine, there are really only two cities: the city of God, where God is king and its citizens build their lives around loving God and developing their relationship with Him by living a life pleasing to Him and keeping His commandments; and the city of man, where God's enemy is king and its citizens build their lives around seeking happiness on earth, to the point of excluding God and His law. For St. Augustine the greatest good is to seek eternal life with God; and the worst, not to seek it. St. Paul says in his letter to the Romans, "We live for God and we die for God." If you choose to die to please yourself, you are not dying for God, and those that do, I believe, risk losing their eternal life with God.

Rev. Teague endorses palliative and spiritual care for those facing end-of-life issues, which I embrace also — adding that those who suffer at the end of life must still remain hopeful and trust in God's mercy and care. God holds in His heart a special place for those who suffer: "Blessed are those who mourn, they will be comforted." And for those who must watch their loved ones suffer, performing works of mercy is our best recourse to help ease their suffering, as Mary did standing at the foot of the cross for love of Jesus.

Stephen P. Garrity Pittsfield


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