He Wants to Die

There are those among us who wish to die. Some are even outspoken about their wish. When we know or may even love such a person, what are we to do?

I have an elderly friend who is actively seeking death. So far as I know, he has stopped short of attempting suicide. (About five years ago he did ask me for information on how to commit suicide. I refused to provide it.)

My friend actively sought a natural death by staying isolated and alone at home. In our conversations, he often describes his life as having been an abject failure; it was most certainly not that. He stopped taking his daily outdoor walks. He didn’t eat regularly and often drank alcohol excessively. I am not sure what he may have done about taking his prescription drugs.   

Recently there was a new and troubling exchange between us. It started when I wrote to tell him that I was travelling to his city and planned to stop in for a quick visit. He answered with an outright rejection of my offer. He went so far as to tell me that he no longer regarded me to be his friend. I was shocked and confused by his statement. I had done nothing to cause him to reject me and end our friendship. However, after a few days of reflection, I realized that he was making it easier for me when his death actually occurs. He was performing his final act as my friend before departing this life. I decided to honor his wishes and let him die alone in peace. Sadly, when he does die I will receive no notification of his passing. He will become a memory.

Should I have let him pull away from life without doing something? I’m still not sure. He is alone and located in a distant city so my options are limited. I guess I could contact DSS in his city; he would really have hated my doing that. He did not want the help of strangers in any attempt to lengthen his life. After caring reflection, I think my doing nothing was the best path and perhaps only real path open to me.

Many of us have a family member or friend who occasionally lets their desire to die be known.  Their reasons are varied. They may be financially, physically or emotionally broken. They may be in severe, continuous pain. They may feel they are “the last one left” after the loss of a loving partner and many contemporary family members and friends. No longer able to cope with living alone, death has increasing appeal to them.

If you know a person who has made the decision to die, what can you do? What should you do? What will you do? Not an easy decision, is it?

About authorbillramsey

During his forty-year professional career, Bill Ramsey wrote magazine articles and business newsletters. Now retired in the mountains of western North Carolina, he writes a blog and has published four books. Bill's 2015 collection of concise, real-life essays is titled "What Do YOU Think?" He has also written "Me Now - Who Next? (The Inspiring Story of a Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery)" and "Now That I Think About It. Bill's books and are available from Amazon.com and on all e-readers. See www.authorbillramsey.com. Follow Bill on Facebook at www.facebook.com/billramseyauthor/
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4 Responses to He Wants to Die

  1. KiM says:

    that had to be a hard post to write and share

    Like

  2. It was hard but I have come to accept the right people have at any age to live their lives as they choose. Also, I write on some tough situations because those who read the blog may be struggling with their own tough situations and will feel less alone.

    Like

  3. Very interesting post. I think if the friend had lived closer, you might have been justified in intervening. However, since he was in a distant locale, where you could not follow up on what DSS did or did not do, I think you did the right thing. I can understand the feelings of those who are totally alone (or who perceive themselves to be), because without friends and family, life is truly not worth living. I am blessed to have both, as I know you are. We are very blessed.

    Like

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