Eric MacDonald: A memorial to Elizabeth

June 9, 2011 • 9:11 am

Eric MacDonald’s wife Elizabeth died four years ago yesterday, a victim of multiple sclerosis who decided to undergo assisted suicide at the Dignitas facility in Switzerland.  His memorial post is a mixture of love for his wife and rancor at the people who put obstacles in the path of her assisted suicide.  I defy you to read it without tears welling up in your eyes.

The obsequies we pay to our beloved dead are our earnest of a future — not our future, but one in which what we value can live on in others’ lives, not ours — as the poem says. That is the human hope. We can only hope that those who succeed us will place value on those things we most aspired to, and things greater than these. The real disaster of religion is placing value in another world, and despairing of this one. While we need to be aware of the limitations of our sympathies and abilities, we also need to strive to achieve those things which people have most valued in this life, forgetting about religious dreams and delusions.

Well said, old man.  And best wishes to you.

14 thoughts on “Eric MacDonald: A memorial to Elizabeth

  1. “I defy you to read it without tears welling up in your eyes.”

    I almost made it one whole sentence. That was really lovely.

  2. I tried to let the embedded song, Chasing Cars, play while I continued reading.

    …Couldn’t do it.

  3. Sorry – I do not think I could read it. My mother died after a long miserable decline in a nursing home the one Friday night when I was going to visit her the next day. She stopped eating in the end so she took control in the only way she could. We just had the results of an analysis of her brain & they had failed to diagnose her Parkinsons with Lewy Bodies. Now my poor uncle (father’s brother) has the same thing. Ah well!

  4. Anyone who would insist that a fellow human being’s suffering should continue for months or even years beyond that which a terminally ill man or woman is willing or able to bear… well, there are no words.

  5. I wonder how many of these Euthanasia Prevention Coalition creeps also (hypocritically) support the death penalty. That’s pretty popular among religious fundamentalists, is it not?

    1. There is a strange thing here because some of the anti-euthanasia groups (the ones most articulate, alas) are not the religious nutters, but the advocates for the disabled. It seems that their argument is based on a kind of values thing: if people could chose to say that life under some conditions is not worth living, this reflects back on the status of some of the people they are advocating for… they see it as degrading to the severely disabled in that it ‘suggests their life is not worth living’.

      While I am sorry for their discomfort, it is incredibly presumptuous to force situations on others for what are essentially ideological ends.

      1. I’ve never understood that either. Is it so hard to recognize that what we’re really saying is that *each individual* is the judge of whether his or her own life has value?

        1. I think this is a big issue. These groups (often secular, ‘liberal’) have the ear of the more ‘liberal’ politicians– it’s kind of odd that plenty of politicians will declare themselves ‘pro choice’ when it comes to abortion not a peep when it comes to pro-choice in dying.

        1. Thanks for posting this link, Diane. I was unaware of Dr. Kevorkian’s death. I appreciate Dr. Kevorkian’s work with terminally ill patients, as well as his crusade (for want of a better word) to legalize euthanasia in the US. Death befalls us all–should it be necessary, I’d like to be in charge of my own.

          1. Jacoby does a good job pointing out the flaws in legislation, such as Oregon’s, restricting decisions about euthanasia to one’s final six months.

            I thought this part of Eric’s Elizabeth post was chilling:

            …the religious beliefs that made it impossible for her to receive assistance in dying in Canada, a fact which meant that she died earlier than she would otherwise have chosen to die, since she did not dare take a chance to leave it too late, and be unable to travel.

  6. Thanks for sharing this. I wish there was some way to have a living will which said, ‘please delete all programs, as the computer will never recover’.

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