Empowering young Australians to be a clear Christian voice

A moving letter on real dignity


Wow! We received a powerful letter on real dignity today:

I draw your attention to the recent reporting of British Columbia Court of Appeal striking down the decision by Justice Smith and upholding the current laws which protect Canadians from euthanasia and assisted suicide, and the alarming ‘creep’ in euthanasia laws in Belgium, where MPs are debating extending euthanasia to children with disabilities and people with dementia.

For the record, my 93-year-old grandfather (recently deceased in August this year) had been cared for in the dementia ward of Hawthorn Village in Blackman’s Bay for the last 18 months of his life. He himself did not have dementia/Alzheimer’s, but had severe arthritis that required round the clock nursing care and assistance that could not be provided in the low dependency units. During this 18 month period I was awakened to the real beauty of those who care for the sick and the elderly and those suffering from dementia… I have nothing but praise for those wonderful nursing care staff. They provided my grandfather and all the dementia patients with true love and dignity in the final years, months, weeks and days of their lives. And what stories and lives those elderly demented people had lived:

  • One lady was from England and she had been a Spitfire pilot during WW2, delivery Spitfires (and Hurricanes) from the factories in the western areas of the UK to the front line squadrons on the east coast.
  • One gentleman had been a surgeon, another the Chief Librarian in Hobart.
  • One very old, bent framed and demented lady had photos hung on her wall from the 1930’s when she was an absolute glamour of the first degree.
  • Others were just everyday people like myself, once young and full of vigour, but now affected by old age and dementia, but lovely beautiful people all

All these people deserve YOUR respect and dignity and love and care… they should never ever be thought of or be told that they are now useless to society because they can no longer contribute… Lord knows how much they have contributed through their long lives.

My grandfather, for his part, had been on his death-bed in the Launceston General Hospital in December 2011.  Doctors in the LGH had given him less than 48 hours to live and had removed all medication as our family gathered around to pay our last respects. As was very much in his character, my grandfather refused to die and rallied and made a full recovery and he and my grandmother (8 years his senior!) moved down from the Launceston region and into Hawthorn Village in Blackman’s Bay. From time to time my grandfather was wracked with arthritic pain, sometime so severe that he would intimate that he just wished it would all end… I would tell him how much we loved him and how important his life IS (not was) to us, and then he would rally again and enjoy all his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren visiting him.

During his 18 months at Hawthorn Village he was by his wife’s (my grandmother) bedside when she died peacefully at the age of 101. He was at the wedding of his oldest great grandchild, and witnessed the wedding of another a few months later. He died just 3 days before the birth of his first great, great grandchild. He died peacefully and with dignity and fully loved… I know because I was there alone with him at 12.45pm when he breathed his last as I was cradling and stroking his head and talking to him. He was loved!!

The VAD Bill is not about love… it is about fear of being a burden, fear that no-one will look after you, fear that you will have no dignity…completely unfounded fear that has no place in our civilised society.

Tasmania is a beautiful island (I have travelled the world and have lived away from Tas for over 20 years so I know that) in which the beauty of  living nature is recognised and heralded.  It would be considered a sacrilege for us to go into our forests and cut down all the oldest disease-wracked trees just because they are full of rot and dropping limbs. No, we let them stand and we let them fall naturally with nature, and in their living and in their dying they benefit the forest around them. So to it is with people: their lives and their dying NATURALLY, benefit us all and benefit society.

We just have to be bothered to love and care for people when they are sick and elderly and demented and afraid. We need to celebrate life in all its guises and in all its stages, not end it prematurely.

John Prichard



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This entry was posted on October 11, 2013 by in Human life & dignity and tagged , .

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