Will you let someone you love, die?

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It is Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday today. Also known as the Lord’s Supper. There is a solemn mood hanging amongst us Christians as we are approaching Good Friday.

Let me therefore, travel back in time and recollect the memories where I was confronted with the above question. It happened to me sometime in April 2002. The conversation took place in Dr. Cheang’s clinic in Lam Wah Ee. It is not something that I can easily forget so it is not difficult for me to write down the conversations and even remember the expressions and feelings.

Dr. C : Well, Lilian, you understand the situation, right?

(He had explained all the medical stuffs and the ‘The End’ story. If Vincent is strong enough, Dr C said he would have taken Vincent to the US for treatment. And I told him that he can take a piece of my lungs anytime. Which is not possible because babies can only receive heart & lungs transplant which have never been performed in Malaysia.)

Me : *pull deep breath and stare into Dr C’s eyes* Will there come a time when you are going to ask me “the question”?

(gesture with both hands to indicate the inverted comma. ‘the question’ = ‘do you, Lilian want to let Vincent go or want us (doctors) to continue keeping him alive?’)


Dr. C : *tilted head, indicating hard to answer question* Well….his lungs may give up slowly and his SPO2 will drop on its’ own slowly. (SPO2 = oxygen in the blood)

Me : If I have a choice, I wouldn’t want him (Vincent) to go through that (meaning – struggling with breath). If I can, I would let him go. Just press one button and bye-bye. (I am special because even in the most difficult situation, I will find something to release tensions.)

Dr. C : *very touched with what I said, rubs chin* You are not the first mother to tell me this. Usually, it takes a lot of sacrifice and love for you to be able to say this. It is not easy to let someone you love to go. And only the very brave one is able to make this decision. Lilian, let’s pray that I will never have to ask you to make any decision.

The ending? Dr. Cheang personally took Vincent from Penang to University Malaya Medical Centre for further treatment. Well, I am thankful that I didn’t have to make any life and death decision because Vincents’ heart stopped and the doctors there were unable to resuscitate him. He died on May 1st, 2002.

However, the recent debate on whether the husband of one comatose woman have the right to take away her feeding tube and let her die has made me think. I read Mei’s blog and had been pondering over it.

If I am in that situation, I think I will let my loved one die. Probably, I will pray hard over it and carry on with the decision. Though I have faith that death is in God’s hands, I will also use my human instinct to decide. Say I know my loved one prefers to die than suffer and I have loved the person selflessly, I will stop all medical intervention and wait for the outcome.

Taking away the feeding tube is more or less the same as making a decision whether we want to carry on some chemo treatement for a suffering cancer patient. Do you know that many parents have been forced to decide for their child’s life? Many children with cancer had to suffer greatly and sometimes, the parents decide not to go for further treatment.

**Just now, I was watching lovingly at Matthew sleeping. He was so cute and calm. And I know that I wouldn’t have Matthew, if Vincent is still around. And if Vincent is still around…. well, he may not be strong, cheeky, naughty, active, cheerful as Matthew. Though it may seems selfish to many people, I know that it is not a selfish thought. I willingly released Vincent to return to Heaven. I truly believe we will meet again. And therefore, I know that if Dr. Cheang has to ask me to make that life and death decision, I would have agreed to let my loved one die. Because when the patient is not able to make the decision for themself, the next-of-kin closest to the patient should carry the heavy task for the patient.**

***Addition : I found the poll result from CNN as follows:
Who should decide Terri Schiavo’s fate?
Politicians 1% 1139 votes
Judges 4% 8075 votes
Her parents 22% 43881 votes
Her husband 73% 142785 votes

I voted for her husband. A wise decision.***

Warning : Don’t anyone dare to question me on my opinions, ok? Unless you have a son and you have to decide whether to let him live or die. Otherwise, keep your smart alec comments to yourself. I am not in the mood to argue with anyone. This blog is about me and my son and nothing to do with what happened to someone we do not know far, far away in US. Geddit? Otherwise, tiuss la.

29 Replies to “Will you let someone you love, die?”

  1. It was was with a lot of prayers and love that I was able agree to a DNR ( do not resuscitate) for my father when he had cancer. If they had to resuscitate he might, at best have a few more days, weeks, months of suffering and at worst be in a coma stuck full of tubes..

  2. I have a living will giving my husband the power to decide, but the past few days hes been bugging me as to what I really want. Hes mad at my ” Up to you lah , if I’m cramping your style, just pull the plug – lah”

  3. Too many complications to be discussed. And yes, if I were dying and no medical means can possibly cure me, then I’d prefer to die rather than relying hopelessly on life support.

  4. Death is sweet. That crossed my mind as I woke up from a D&C operation. I had a D&C to clear leftover placenta in the womb and was losing a lot of blood. Plus I had thalasemia, which means insufficient iron in the blood. Basically there wasnt enough oxygen in my blood. Every breath was difficult as I waited for the operation and when I passed out from the anestatic, it was a huge relief and I had peace. Of course I survived to tell the tale but I think I understand now what they mean by; death could be sweet. Think you made the right choice Lilian.

  5. i know someone who have to make the decision. it must be damn hard.

    i think i will do the same too. rather than let the ppl we love to suffer. God knows what is best, right?

  6. life’s a journey, not a destination, as they always say. We live our lives to the best of our abilities and hope God does the rest isn’t it? Our God is a good God. Just that sometimes we never understand what he does.

    Keep the faith.

  7. Hey.. Lilian,
    Usually when you blog about your lost.. i try not to comment.. because no words.. nor anything i say.. can explain or feel what you went thru’. But i want you to know .. that in a perfect world.. no mummy would have to go thru’ what you did.. my heart wrench everytime you blog about your lost.. i really do.. but this is not a perfect world.. therefore we are left to make some decisions that we donch want to.. but have to. And whatever your decision was or may have been.. with your lost… NO one.. and i mean absolutely NO one.. can comment or ask you any questions.. or justification for it. You are a very, very brave woman.. Lilian.. i truly admire you .. and respect you for being so strong.
    I on the other hand.. am not strong enough to talk about my lost… i therefore .. not think about it anymore… so i commend you.. 🙂

  8. Simon – Thanks for the wise words. It just occured to me. 2,000 years ago, if people around Jesus (like us for e.g.) were to see him heading for his crucifixion, we may accuse him of heading for suicide or self-destruction, isn’t it? So, it is all a matter of understanding. I have faith that it is not an easy decision for the husband to make. And I pray that God’s will is part of it, in this case and in all cases.

    Hazel – Do you agree that the people who have to make the decision had turned to Allah for guidance? Yes, right? So, if their heart tells them to do so, the doctors advice doing it, so I see it takdir.

    Rach – Sorry to hear about that experience. It is a big relief lifted off, the only thing sad about death is the persons who are left behind. Otherwise, I am not afraid of dying.

    Rodney – You are sweet!

    OJ – kehkehkeh, it is not something for us to choose, actually. The doctors must first pronounced the patient brain dead. Once, Prof. Lucy Lum of the Paed Intensive Care Unit of UMMC gave me a survey form and asked me to feedback on the parents’ thoughts on this. You see, they (doctors) often have this dilemma whereby they know there is no future for the child and they need to seek the parents’ consent to terminate life support. This is legal. But if doctors said you belum brain dead, and you want to escape the pains and sufferings, that is euthanasia. That one, God can punish wan….

    Romantic – Wah, so well-planned! The only thing I tell my husband is to take all my organs and donate. And I am going to do the same for all my dependents.

    Eileen – Glad to hear that, the willingness to release a person. Because sometimes, when the living kins are fighting over the death, the person dying can actually feel the reluctance and it makes things difficult for them. Even when they are all unconscious, they still can feel. I had been in the ICU (adults) to see the clowns who actually quarrel over the dead bodies.

    JxT – Yes, I did thank God that death came suddenly and swiftly for Vincent.

    Jason – Hope you understand the whole situation. I blog something close to my heart, I cried a few tears, it is not for you to argue with me about my previous stand on abortion. You are either downright stupid and dumb or you are void of feeling for others. In fact, it is very rude of you to even bring it up without thinking of my feelings when I am writing this blog. I do not care what you think you want to do for your imaginative wife or child. I have better things to worry about. Apologies accepted, anyway.
    *Jason commented something about my ealier blog on abortion and said I am contradicting my own stand. I had deleted that comment last night.*

  9. Mrs T – Funny. This is not the first time, we commented/typing at the same time! Awww…I am not sure what you have but I hope in time, you will talk about it to some understanding ears and it does bring relief. Yes, I am strong beyond my own comprehension too. It is all God given strength.

  10. If given an alternative choice, I vote Terri Schiavo to be send to Netherland to get the painless injection to stop her heart beat. The US is damn stupid when handling euthanasia : if you decide to terminate the indignity life, why don’t you use intelligent way to reduce their suffer?

  11. moo_t : If what I read in the paper can be trusted, the doctors have approved the ‘stop feeding’ thing. If one wants to be kind, one mustn’t think whether she is going to be hungry or thirsty for these few moments. One has to think what the hell it is like to lie there for the past 15 years, suffering the indignity of being in a vegetative state. So, in my opinion, a few days of hunger and thirst to end the misery of God knows when the sufferings of being in a vegatitive state will end is much more beareable. I just wish more people will see it that way. If she can feel hunger and thirst, she can feel all those agonies of being in a coma. Agree, people?

    We have to remember and not get emotional the fact that the doctors, in their medical point of view, agree to the ‘stop feeding’ instruction. And they would only do this when there is no more brain function. As what I had been told, the neurologists can determine if the person brain is still working. If they confirmed dead, then death is the best choice.

    But if her brain is still functioning, the going to Netherlands to get injected to die, then that is cruel la.

  12. Agree, mothers cannot die so fast and leave their helpless kids to fend for themselves. And who knows how the potential step mom will turn out to be? So I was praying and telling God very clearly, I cannot die yet, I have two kids to bring up!

  13. Not to sound cruel or anything, but I felt the decision should rest on the family of the girl. The husband has no right to pull the plug because the wife’s family is 1.either hoping for a miracle 2.or hoping that keeping her alive long enough for advances in medical technology to get her out of her vegetative state.

    I felt that the decision to pull the plug must be given to the family of the girl and not her husband.

    The family of the girl are in greater pain than the husband, because they are losing a family member that they have been know since her birth, while the husband only know her less than the wife’s family.

    that’s my view. Maybe others might not agree with me. Well, I respect that.

  14. kljs – I hope next time when you have a wife, you can still say this. It sounds to me like your in-law is going to rule over you all the time, then. Think about that? And ya, read the new blog. God says, once you are married, a man must leave his father and mother. Yes, it is explicitly mentioned in the Bible several times. And a woman must submit to her husband. Again, it is in the Bible. So, the husband rules. I only mentioned this because the girl’s family is a Roman Catholic which follow these words from God. I don’t know about other faiths’ thoughts.

    Rach – Is that what kept you struggling to stay awake? So touching to hear that. Yeah, God has His plans so we can rest assured it will be the best for us, even when we don’t understand.

  15. maybe you are right, maybe I wouldn’t think that way if I have a wife or have a wife in the future.

    However, a family is still a family. If the same situation happened to me, i will try to persuade the family to allow me to pull the plug. maybe it might not be the right thing to do, but seeing your love ones suffer is painful, but the family also is feeling the same pain as you. hence the dilemma. But who will feel the most pain? of course it would be the parents. They brought their child up, see them crawl, heard them say their first word, see their take their first steps, see them go to school, see them graduate from school/universities..etc. Imagine how hard it is for them to accept their their child is slowing dying or suffering. Which parents in this world want to see their child die? It is hard when you are to choose to let your loves one die or continue living. The pain is more than anyone could bear.

  16. 5xMom, in Terri Schiavo case, because of the law, the doctor can only use the passive way. I think the doctor take more pressure when he execute passive euthanasia compare to active euthanasia.

    KLJS, have you or your relative ever suffer continous great pain? wikipedia has a good reference to this
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthanasia

    Human are not super being. The body is mean to withstand limited number of physical and physcoloy impact. Way over the limit of medical control, it is suffering.

    For patient in vegetation status, do you know that how much suffering they have? Because of their stasis status, complication is common. Do you know the rush when the husband going through every complication with her wife? And you still can this life?

  17. Wah kljs, which part of your brain is not registering ha? What the fuck are you blabbing ha? Did you actually read my blog, understand it before commenting? I know it is the parents la, ‘cos I had been in that situation what. So, why are you arguing on this point? Haven’t I made it clear enuff that I am not interested to talk about someone living far away? I entertained your comments earlier because I am being civilised and am polite so don’t test my patience wor.

    moo_t – Are you talking to kljs? You are, right? That he is trying to argue over something that is not related to him, that he had not experienced before?

  18. if you want, you can remove my previous comment. I will retract everything I said.
    I apologize for going overboard.
    Sorry.

  19. based on human instincts, i would rather let someone i love die than to see them suffer, especially when they’ve been pronounced brain dead.

    but wat if a person’s suffering on earth can reduce his/her soul’s suffering in purgatory, which has been described as something close to sinking one’s hands in boiling water? wat if a person’s suffering is another’s spiritual help?

    …which leaves me rather perplexed…how would i know tat wat i decide is God’s decision also?…

  20. No one “dies” before their time. When the soul is ready to release the body, when it has accomplished what it came here to do (maybe to experience your unconditional love), it moves on. There is always a reason. To realize that each soul is making its decisions is a beautiful, healing and freeing experience.

    What is nagging those who had to make such a decision, is that how do they know there are approaching such individual decisions in clarity, dignity and integrity?

    For them, they must connect with God within their hearts, and they will know.

    But life implies death, and death implies life. Death is therefore as creative as birth, as necessary for action and consciousness, in your terms. A death is just a night to a soul. We all had lived before and will live again.

    Each of you survives death. The man who was crucified knew this beyond all doubt, and he sacrificed nothing.

    The integrity of the self and the soul exists beyond the possibility of annihilation, as you yourself will continue to exist regardless of which path you choose to take – dying after 30 years, or living physically on for many more.

    In other words, you will continue to exist and to be fulfilled within that love you sensed.

  21. Hi Lilian. Only noticed your message on my blog re: this today (months after it was writted).
    All I can say is, you’re one very strong lady. God bless you. Thanks for sharing.

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