Choosing the boat, on flat and calm seas

If our souls continue on after death to a place of peace and joy, Ernie and Kay Sievewright are out on their boat right now

If our souls continue on after death to a place of peace and joy, Ernie and Kay Sievewright are out on their boat right now, fishing rods in hand.

It isn’t something most of us like to think about a lot.

But it is a reality: we are all going to die.

We’re also all going to get old. There’s a chance our minds will go before our bodies or vice versa.

For many, living in constant pain, or losing your memories and the ability to do even the simplest tasks for yourself, indeed, losing who you are, is a fate worse than death.

Now, thanks to new federal legislation in Canada, folks who face that reality have the option of physician assisted death.

We can choose how we are going to live and how we are going to die.

For some, going out before you absolutely have to will not be the right choice.

But now, for those for whom chronic pain and mental deterioration have become intolerable, there is a legal, peaceful way to say goodbye.

Previously, if someone wanted to end their life, they had to insulate loved ones and health professionals from any suggestion they had helped in any way. There was even a chance whatever method someone had managed to cobble together wouldn’t work properly. It was a far more lonely journey.

Now loved ones can sit openly at the bedside holding their husband’s or wife’s, sister’s or brother’s, mother’s or father’s hand, while a physician makes sure the death is a painless as possible.

This month, Ernie held Kay’s hand as she slipped away peacefully, and he followed shortly after, comforted by the process he had seen his beloved wife go through.

Before his death friends and loved ones came to visit Ernie and sat around the kitchen table.

Having the option for physician assisted death takes some of the fear out of getting older with its attendant possibilities of becoming infirm, prisoner to constant grinding pain, loss of mental faculties or both.

It’s a choice many in this country have long wanted and even fought for in legal struggles sometimes cut short by total deterioration or death.

The Supreme Court of Canada decision to give us all that choice was a huge step forward.

We can only hope Ernie and Kay are out there on that boat they envisioned waiting for them in the afterlife, with the bait bucket and the dog, fishing on flat and calm seas.

At peace, with no pain.