by Arthur Milner
At the age of ninety-three and a half, my mother went for 30-minute walks. Then she took a turn for the worse. We went to the doctor. “Doctor,” she said, “I would like to die. Can you help me?” “No,” said the doctor, “and don’t ask me again.” After that, she frequently asked family members to help her die. She suggested going to Switzerland.1 We were concerned, but no one did anything.
She walked more slowly, then she needed a walker, then a wheelchair. She was often sleepy. She got a lung infection and was sent to the hospital. She refused to be admitted, went home with enough analgesic to keep her dopey and, three days later, died. The decline took seven months.
We die differently now, and we haven’t recognized it.