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When Death Shakes Your Own Soul November 9, 2016

Filed under: Thoughts — Meghan Hamilton @ 4:00 pm
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Yesterday Craig and I attended the funeral of a 48 year old man. We weren’t super close to him, but he made a significant impact on Craig and we are both better people for having known his kindness.

Despite not knowing him well, his death has hit me hard. You see, he struggled with his mental health. On several occasions, his wife and I would have impromptu group therapy sessions in the grocery store or wherever we happened to run into each other, because being married to someone with a mental illness is hard. Though they had different diagnoses, it was similar enough to feel safe talking about it with each other.

So as I thought about this particular death, I knew it could just as easily have been Craig’s funeral. The thing that people don’t like to acknowledge out loud in front of other people is that mental illness can be a terminal illness. Whether a person takes their own life because the pain inside has become overwhelming, or they do something utterly stupid in the throes of a delusion, death is not uncommon. It can feel like it is waiting at the periphery of our lives on a daily basis, looking for an opportunity to snatch away our loved ones.

Those of us married to people like Craig find ourselves wondering if treatment will be accepted. Then we wonder if it will be effective. It’s not always effective. The man who was buried yesterday fought valiantly for his sanity. He loved his family deeply. I doubt he wanted to hurt them with his exit from this life. When my friend was presented with the flags involved in the military ceremony, I heard her weep. My heart wept with her. I can only imagine her pain right now. I hope to never feel it for myself. But I’m not counting on it.

Craig fights every day. Still, there are days that I wonder if he’ll arrive home safely after he goes out. There are days I wonder if I’ll arrive home to him still in one piece and the house safe from a kitchen fire. There have even been days that I wished it would be over so that I could stop wondering. Those are the most terrifying days and the ones no one wants to acknowledge.

Today I still have my husband. Today I will tell him I love him because I don’t know if I’ll get the chance to tell him tomorrow.

*Note: I don’t wish to ignore or minimize the impact of mental illness on the lives of other family members. But my experience is that of a spouse, so that is my focus today.*

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Who Chooses Life or Chooses Death? November 3, 2014

Filed under: Thoughts — Meghan Hamilton @ 7:04 pm
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Brittany Maynard has been in the news a lot lately.  She publicly declared that she would end her own life rather than waiting for terminal cancer to shut down her body.  And then she did.  Of course this has caused much debate over the morality of such a decision and the legality of a doctor helping her end her life under these circumstances.  So, I take this opportunity to throw in my two cents.

The Christian faith I grew up with, and continue to believe, tells me that death should be God’s decision, not our own.  I still believe that.  By extension, I don’t believe that this is the government’s decision.  I don’t need the government to legislate morality.  While our actions certainly have an affect on others, the government should have little right to interfere with people’s lives.  Who does this hurt?  Her family?  Yes.  But what if I, as someone with a basically healthy body, decided to up and leave my family and never speak to them again?  It wouldn’t really be the government’s business except for trying to get child support money on behalf of Alex.  It might not be wise, or responsible, or the Christian Thing to do, but it is my decision to stay or go.  I see Ms. Maynard’s decision to end her own life in the same light.

So, do I applaud Ms. Maynard for making this decision on her own?  Yes.  Is it the decision I would have advised her to make?  No.  But should the government be allowed to tell her doctor not to prescribe medication that she could use to end her life?  No.  Let her and her doctor decide that.  Let me decide for myself what I will make of my life or my death.  In my case, according to my faith I will go to prayer and scripture if faced with a terminal and painful illness.  If you read those very scriptures, they are all about making choices to follow God or not.  They aren’t about telling the government how to make people follow God.  Even when the laws align with scripture, each of us ultimately goes to our death individually and stands before God as an individual.  He looks at us each through His own eyes.  Those eyes are not my eyes.  They are not your eyes.  They are not the lawmakers’ eyes.  They are God’s eyes.  He decides what to do about Ms. Maynard’s decision to end her life a couple of months early, not you, not me, not anyone else on this planet.

I would like the government to continue to protect me from those out to endanger me and my neighbors.  But try as our lawmakers might, they can’t stop me from endangering myself.  And I don’t want them to.  If someone I know is facing a situation like Ms. Maynard’s and wants my advice, I’ll freely give it.  And then I will step back and let her or him decide.  Freedom is precious and shouldn’t be taken away because we disagree with someone’s decision to end their life.