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I am so sorry to hear about Brittany’s ending her life. I am reminded of Robin Williams, who recently made a similar yet very different decision.

What is the difference? Robin apparently suffered from depression, a mood disorder. He had been suffering for years and it seems that one night it became too much for him. Ideally he would have taken a different road: contacted his friends, asked for help, and received therapy and medication for relief. If he had known how much pain he inflicted on all his friends, relatives, and the whole country, he might have stopped and thought again.

Brittany’s choice has also affected all of us, although we don’t feel that we knew her as well. We only knew she was a beautiful young mother with a terrible burden to bear. Many of us have admired her courage. Others can only pray for her, that she may rest in peace and that her family may find comfort.

We would have interceded with Robin and stopped him if we could have. Almost any of us, because we know that depression can be alleviated if not cured. Some of us would have stopped Brittany if we could have, even knowing there was allegedly no cure for her – although doctors have been mistaken before, often, in fact. We would have tried to intercede because we know that we are not the owners of our own lives, we belong to God our creator, and he alone has the right to choose the hour of our death. We do not know what tasks God has for us in the last days and moments of our lives, or who we might influence.

My greatest fear though is that Brittany’s choice will help pave the way for more laws favoring assisted suicide. And when I am eighty-five, and perhaps feeling depressed, will my grandchildren come to me and ask, “Why are you being so selfish? When are you going to take the easy way out, so we no longer have to shoulder the burden of caring for you, paying for your medicines, wasting time talking to you?”

Of course I hope they will have been raised better than that. But that question may still resonate in their minds, and in the minds of the elderly who feel they are a burden. It is an honor and privilege to care for the sick and the elderly, a sign of a civilized and humane society, and we should not make laws that guilt people into choices that lessen our humanity.

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