End-of-Life Choices

Written by on June 12, 2014 in Blog with 0 Comments

One purpose of the Final Exodus website is to have readers become aware that they have choices at the end-of-life.  Yes, we do have choices as to how we die.  I am not promoting any one of the choices – this is a decision each one of us must make.  We can make that choice unconsciously or consciously.   My hope is that everyone will make it consciously.


Heroic Efforts.  Some people choose, or their family chooses for them, to live as long as medical heroics can keep them alive.   As discussed below, this is not a natural death.


Natural Death.  The popular choice is to “let nature take its course,” i.e., to die a “natural” death.   This means that when someone is clearly declining into death, s/he doesn’t want any heroic effort to be kept alive — do nothing more (or allow nothing more) to alter that decline.   Do not resuscitate!   And if machines, medicines, and artificial feeding are keeping me alive, stop them.  Disconnect me!


Wait a moment.  Haven’t our (elderly) lives already been extended by various medical marvels?  So really, it’s too late to die a natural death!  Bill Simmons is alive today because of various cancer surgeries.  So too you may have already altered your “natural” life.  This fact is overlooked when we talk of dying “naturally.”  That’s too late! So the question I ask is, then why is it wrong to alter life by taking another step: terminate life before it would end otherwise?   We’ve extended death unnaturally, why is it wrong then to shorten what was extended?


Sorry for the aside.  Back to “natural death” as commonly understood.  As noted, many of us choose to be disconnected to die “naturally.”  Most do not know there are other choices.  So I call this the unconscious choice — that is, choice by default.


PAD (physician aid in dying).  Our doctors are in a unique position to help us die, for they can prescribe medications that will do that.   The problem is of course it is illegal for them to do so in most states and countries.  The exceptions in the United States are Oregon, Washington and Vermont, where various rigors must be followed before the physician can legally help someone die (the subject of another blog someday).  In a few others states, it may not be illegal for a physician to assist someone to die, but procedures have not been set up (Montana, Hawaii, and perhaps New Mexico (law suit pending)).


(Rx) Prescription Drugs.  From time to time we hear in the media that someone has died from an overdose of some prescription drug, whether accidentally or intentionally we often don’t know.  What I mean here is someone does this intentionally.  If the right Rx can be obtained, one can intentionally achieve death.   In recent years people have obtained a doctor’s prescription for one or more barbiturates, and then from another doctor a second such prescription, and so on, until enough are accumulated to cause death when taken all at once.   But the process is not as straight forward as you might think, and some who have chosen this option have failed.  Those who promote the right to die do not recommend this method.


He (Helium or other inert gas).  This method is first choice of members of the Final Exit Network.   The inert gas fills a hood that has been placed over one’s head so that only pure gas is inhaled.  Death comes within minutes, and is not painful.  This method is briefly discussed later and will be the subject of a future blog.


SED (stopping eating and drinking).   Yes, you can starve yourself.  Done correctly it is not painful.  In one sense it is natural, for medical literature makes it clear that many people, as they lie dying, naturally stop eating and drinking.   More and more people are intentionally choosing this method because it seems the best option for ease and for having loved ones with us as we fade away.


This method is promoted by Drs. Stanley M. Terman and Boudewijn Chabot.  The former’s original book on this method is called The Best Way to Say Goodbye, A Legal Peaceful Choice at the End-of-Life (2007) (437 pp).   I cite it in my website, FinalExodus.org.


I just finished reading Chabot’s very recent book on the subject, Taking Control of your Death by Stopping Eating and Drinking (2014)(75 pp).  Both these physicians have many years experience caring for patients at the end of their lives.


In blogs to follow, I will share Dr. Cabot’s insights with you.  His book may be obtained from www.dyingathome.nl   .  Unfortunately it is not yet available from Amazon.




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