The Vatican described Brittany Maynard's choice to end her own life as "reprehensible," and it wasn't alone in that sentiment, writes John La Grange. He recounts one of the many lines of thought he heard: that Maynard's husband should have fought against her choice, so as to have every possible moment with her. But as La Grange writes for Slate, "I would give anything to not have experienced the last week of my wife's life." She died of cancer, and the last days were brutal, forming memories that La Grange struggles to erase "of vomit and bedsores and things so horrible that I cannot bring myself to type them into this keyboard." But it's not just the images that entered his brain that trouble him; it's the thoughts, too, the "wishing that his wife, his partner of 38 years whom he loved with all his heart, would die."
He notes that he's not sure if his wife would have opted to take the "death with dignity" route had it been available in their home state of California; they didn't talk much about her disease or impending death, at her request. And as a society, we don't talk about death much, observes La Grange, at least not in terms of what it's really like. As he watched someone go through it, he learned that "the dose of morphine necessary to keep her 'comfortable' is eventually the same as the dose that will stop her breathing." He sees Maynard's choice as "a gift to all of us if it gets us to think about how we want to die, and what memories we want to leave behind." Read his full column here.