Death with Dignity is author Robert Orfali’s passionate and persuasive argument for legalized physician-assisted dying, based on personal opinion and experience and extensive research into the debates and issues revolving around this controversial issue.
After losing his soulmate, Jeri, to a ten-year battle with cancer, Orfali wrote this book to share his experiences and lessons learned from Jeri’s death and presents considerable data on issues and procedures involved around dying that contribute to making an already emotionally and physically painful experience more painful and difficult for patients and caregivers.
Orfali recounts Jeri’s own “dream” to save her from needlessly suffering in the end. She tells Robert that she wants to have a beautiful day in her favorite ocean suite, overlooking her surfing spot, spending time together with their closest friends, then at sunset she will say goodbye as she toasts to the good life and then drink her final cocktail, which will be “something that will put me to sleep forever…Don’t wake me until I die.” Instead, Robert was forced to move Jeri in and out of hospitals and finally into a hospice where she eventually died. Though she was supposedly not in pain, and the hospice provided a less ‘clinical’ environment for Jeri’s last days, her death was a far cry from the peaceful, beautiful death that she had requested. The fact that Orfali was unable to fulfill Jeri’s request is one of the factors that motivates him to educate others about and option that allows for death with dignity.
Among the data and cases presented to argue his position for legalized, physician-assisted dying, Orfali presents evidence from Oregon and The Netherlands, where euthanasia has been legalized. TO contrast, he presents cases, like the story of Angelique who made a direct plea to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and posted it on YouTube. Her plea included the following:
“The law wouldn’t let a dog suffer the agony I’m going through before an inevitable death.
It would be put down. Yet under the law, my life is worth less that a dog’s…
If euthanasia was legal, I could have ended my days as I chose, finding peace
before leaving this world, not panic and more pain.”
Apart from the stylistic point of the notes that Orfali makes in some of the chapters, rather than including them in the actual body of the chapter, Orfali’s writing is personal, straightforward, powerful, his arguments well researched and thought provoking and effectively reveals the impossible position of the patient who wants to forego an agonizing death, and the caregiver who must take illegal action or sit by helplessly and watch the suffering of a loved one, and why it must be changed.
Death with Dignity makes a compelling and convincing argument for legalized physician-assisted dying. A powerful must read for everyone who will, one day, have to deal with death.
Also by the same author: Grieving a Soulmate – The Love Story behind “Till Death Do Us Part”.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader