One memorable case concerned a middle aged man called Bob. Bob was suffering from lung cancer. He was incredibly sad that his favourite past time - a round of gold with his mates - was no longer possible. This person was clear. It was his frustration at being house-bound and dependent on visits from friends and family, rather than the physical symptoms of the cancer, that made him choose an elective death.
Palliative care is not a universal panacea. While this branch of medicine does have a valuable contribution to make, especially in the field of pain control, it is unhelpful to use symptom management as the benchmark against which a person’s quality of life is measured.
Rather, people rate their quality of life in different ways with no two individuals’ assessment the same. While a life without pain is clearly better than a life with pain, this is not always the most important issue. Instead it is that person’s own complex assessment of their life’s worth that is the key. The physical symptoms of an illness are often only one of many considerations. Just ask Angelique.
The Tired of Life Phenomenon
In recent years, a new trend has begun to emerge; one that has caused Exit to rethink our approach to death and dying. Increasingly at our workshops, we meet elderly people who are fit and healthy (for their age), but for whom life has become increasingly burdensome. Such people are not depressed. Rather, the sentiment expressed is that ‘I have lived enough of the good life and now it’s time to go.’ The actions of Australian couple, Sidney and Marjorie Croft, explain this phenomenon well.