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A 'Final Resolution' of Their Own

August 08, 2004

After reading "A Final Resolution" (by Fred Dickey, July 18), I was reminded of an event that took place about five years ago. In November 1998, my wife, Barbara, had a stroke that paralyzed most of her body, but it did not affect her thinking. She was placed in a nursing home. On one of my daily visits several months after she was confined, she asked with a great deal of hesitation, "Dave, would you help me commit suicide?" The question was a shock. But after a minute I asked her, "Barbara, if the positions were reversed, would you help me commit suicide?"

The subject was not mentioned again. I continued to visit her daily. Then, one day last September, I noticed that she was not very responsive and her mind was not clear. She was also in more pain. I talked to a nurse and asked if Barbara could be kept comfortable on pain medication with the life-support feeding tube removed. She said that was possible. I told her that for the last five years my wife's quality of life had been poor. She agreed to my request, and Barbara was given only the pain medication. Within 48 hours she died.

I feel that I made the right decision. But if I had helped her commit suicide when she had asked, I would now feel quite guilty, even if assisted suicide were legal in California. This is not just a legal issue but a moral issue as well.

David S. Eicher

Glendale

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