Thursday, November 6, 2014

Brittany Maynard's Advice Was About Living


On November 1st, a 29-year old terminal cancer victim ended her own life. You probably have already heard about her.  Brittany Maynard's decision to die on her own terms was documented in videos that been viewed millions of times on the Internet.

This blog is all about making the most of all of our moments.  I have thought a lot about Brittany's death from this angle.  Many people fully support Brittany's decision to end her own life before the quality and dignity of her moments deteriorated. Other people are critical of her for deciding not to live out every moment of the life she had been given.  It is a complicated debate.

The videos of Brittany show a beautiful young woman, with a sweet voice.  She seems kind, loving and intelligent. Her decisions are clearly outlined, and it is obvious she has thought a lot about her plans. Brittany clearly had a zest for life, and knew how to live it fully.  In the weeks prior to her death, she added to her adventures by doing the things on her “bucket list.”  It appears she was well loved, and supported fully by her family (and the law of the state where she lived) in her course of action.  She clearly would have preferred to live, had circumstances been different. They were not. Her terminal illness progressed and she chose the point when she would die.

Brittany shared her decisions publicly because she wanted to use her own situation to advocate for patient rights and options. She certainly sparked a lot of conversation and attention focused on this issue. She brought a lot of consideration to a cause in which she strongly believed. The impact of her convictions continues even now, in moments when she is no longer living.

If you have not seen the videos Brittany made, you can view them,by clicking here. Towards the end of the first video, she reminded us all:
“... make every day worthwhile. I hope to enjoy however many days I have left. ..  Make sure you are not missing out. Seize the day. What's important to you? What do you care about? What matters?"
In other words - her advice was that we should strive to make the most of all of our moments.

My opinion, as to whether Brittany's purposeful death was right or wrong is irrelevant. The real tragedy is not that Brittany took her own life; but that she had a ruthless and incurable cancer which would lead to a difficult death. A young woman who loved life and lived it fully was robbed of her future, by a horrible disease. Her legacy, in addition to how she has influenced the end-of-life choice movement, is that she reminded us all to live our lives well.



While Brittany was alive, she clearly knew how to make the most of all her moments.

I just wish she had had more of them.

I did not know Brittany personally, but I feel like our world has lost a special person. My sympathies are with her family.

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13 comments :

  1. A heart-rending problem. To die with dignity and on our own terms, or to wait and suffer the agonizing and ignoble death subscribed by that well-know fiend, cancer. Quite a debate. My heart goes out to Brittany, and to others who must grapple with such a decision. Thank you for this post, Susan! Truly food for thought...

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    1. I really doubt any of us know truly how we stand on this issue, unless we are faced with such a decision ourselves.

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  2. Britney's story has been on my mind so much lately... I'm so heartbroken for her family and can't imagine how difficult of a decision this was for her. Obviously she had such a zest for life and a beautiful caring way about her... why on earth should THIS be her fate? I stand completely by her decision to end her life with dignity rather than suffer in agony... And I'm grateful that I had the chance to "know" her, even if only from a distance and through her videos--because she was an inspirational woman.

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    1. I have been inspired by her as well. A lot of future posts on this blog will be written with her appreciation of how to live life well in mind.

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  3. Beautiful post Susan. I've been thinking a lot about Brittany too, and I'm so sorry that her life was cut so short by cancer. Another important reminder to make the most of the time we have, every day!

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    1. You are so right Lana - and I know the heartbreaking tragedy in Marysville has had you thinking that way as well.

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  4. I, too, saw her message as one of a love of life and a wish to live each day to its fullest. I'm heartbroken for all that was lost when she died, but I have total respect for the decision she made and the thought that went into it.

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    1. I think it was an incredibly unselfish act on the part of her family to support her in this.

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  5. Such a difficult decision, such a sad decision. And how WONDERFUL that she had the support of her family.

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    1. I agree. It must have been so unbelievably hard for them.

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  6. It's amazing how many lives this young woman has touched. We all know her name we all feel her struggle and we all feel a great sorrow at her passing. I do believe it is right to be able to do this on a person's own terms. I have seem so many people suffer through cancers that cannot be cured and the pain they go through is excruciating. I like to believe that I would also have made the same choices if given the same terrible death sentence. I believe that the world has lost a remarkable young woman who was brave and loving and a truly wonderful person. It just makes me sad to even think about.

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  7. Thank you for posting on Motivation Monday!

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Many thanks to everyone who leaves a comment here!