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.