Assisted suicide: a change of heart   

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When I was training as a surgeon, I was pro assisted suicide. I believed it was a humane act of kindness and compassion. I imagined myself to be in the place of the other and at times felt if that was me, I’d rather be dead than live with that condition or this condition.  I understand how easy it is to think and feel like this and not even question: could there be more to it?

For me, death was the end of all life. There was no afterlife, no consequences, no hell, no heaven, no eternity, no reincarnation or God. There was nothing at that time that could have persuaded me otherwise. I had no proof, no science, no experience to counter that belief which was strongly held. And with that worldview, it also made sense to me that if someone’s life is nearing the end from a terminal illness and they are suffering, why not assist them to die if they so choose? It seemed to make sense and to be compassionate, understanding, and respectful of another human being.

I was incensed by those who made arguments against assisted suicide based on personal religious belief, void of any science, or reasoned consistency. I found the religious arguments seriously wanting. Fear of hell, not pleasing God, being punished or incurring his wrath did not make sense to me, and they still don’t.

“Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing there is a field, I’ll meet you there.”
– Rumi

Today, I no longer hold the belief that we just have one life. I no longer believe that the way we live and how we die is not important. How we live and how we die matter. For we live in an energetic world – where ultimately everything is energy and all is interconnected as one whole. As such, everything affects everything.

We know energy cannot be created or destroyed, and I now know the energy that animates me in life, lives on after my physical body dies, and will continue in the cycle of life from one life to another. How I live and die in this life will affect the quality of my next incarnation. I personally have no doubt about that.

So what changed? What happened to bring about such a transformation in my understanding of life and who we are?

Suffering.

It was suffering that got me to dig deep, to ask questions, and search for the truth about life and who we are. Whilst suffering is not needed per se, it was needed in my case to break the arrogance that thought I could live however I liked, that I knew better, that my form of intelligence was supreme.

I had to be humbled, to begin to consider there might just be another way, there might just be more to life than I had previously considered. I sought answers that resonated with me as true and which made sense.

I came to the realization and deeply felt knowing that every human being is love – but we do not live that love in every breath, word, action or thought, and therein is the key to our suffering. All of those choices made in separation to the love we naturally are, result in suffering in its many forms. And that experience of suffering can awaken us to the fact that the way we are living is not working, and that something needs to change.

Whilst illness and disease can be unpleasant to experience, I no longer hold them as simply bad, but as potential sources of healing. I now know if I am suffering, then there is something for me to explore, more for me to let go of, and in doing so, I heal, I heal the source of the suffering, and I return to the love and joy that is the core of my being and which has always been there. It is through this process that I have been able to heal addiction, abuse, hopelessness, burnout, anger/frustration, and more as well as physical ailments and emerge as a stronger, more understanding, compassionate, loving, and caring human being.

Had I not been humbled by suffering, I have no doubt I would have continued on my wayward and loveless ways. Suffering enabled me to take a deeper look at how I was living, what choices I was making, my relationships, including the one with myself, my attitudes and behaviors, and begin to transform them so they are largely founded upon love.

It has been profoundly humbling to bear witness to those with terminal cancer who have made the choice to heal by returning to love and who have kept that sparkle in their eye and joy in their being despite whatever physical symptoms occur. They have chosen to truly live whilst dying, and they die knowing their physical end is not the end of who they truly are – but is simply a beginning of the next cycle of their life.

The process of dying is a time of greater awareness and offers us an opportunity to reflect on our life and the way we have lived it, to understand it more deeply and to heal the sources of our suffering so that we do not carry them forward, but we evolve and deepen in love. Assisted suicide is not a true answer but a temporary escape – from something we will still need to address in future lifetimes if we do not deal with it now. Assisted suicide goes against our innate drive to not just live but thrive, and to live the complete cycle of our life. There is nothing to be gained by cutting short that life before its time and everything to be gained by truly healing our suffering now and returning to the love we are.

And that is why I have changed from being an advocate of assisted suicide to being an advocate for completing the cycle of life, for true healing that comes from the love we innately are, from the wisdom of our Soul, so that we can heal during life, right up until the end and die feeling settled and complete.

“Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing there is a field, I’ll meet you there.”
– Rumi

Eunice J. Minford is a general surgeon in the United Kingdom who blogs at the Soulful Doctor.  She can be reached on Twitter  @thesoulfuldoc.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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