Disrespect for the dead: whitewashing suicide.

19 Feb

suicide quadriplegic paralysis life artist

I don’t know if you’ve gotten a link yet to this piece in the UK Daily Mail. The headline reads: “‘I loved him too much to be selfish’: The heartbreaking story of teacher, 24, who starved herself to death six years after she was paralysed… so he could move on”. The problem is, that’s not the story at all. In fact, all the pictures in the article were taken from one post on her blog. And that post, truly heartwrenching, describes her life and pain with such clarity that makes it hard to take the Daily Mail article as anything but deliberate lying. If you want to read a shorter statement she made to her family and friends about her decision to end her life, read this: http://lifeparalyzed.blogspot.com/2011/12/message-to-my-friends.html. Here’s the main paragraph:

My paralysis robbed me of the most basic human necessities (freedom, privacy, independence, and physical intimacy). It has been tremendously difficult, being forced into accepting help; needing to be washed, clothed and fed like an infant. I have had to endure horrible treatments and artificial, unnatural means of life support (through medicine, catheters & bowel program). My body is exhausted and most days I’m sick, uncomfortable (chills, cold sweats, fevers) and in pain (chest pains & nerve pain). I did my best, to seek out doctors, specialists, therapists and tried countless medications and treatments.    Unfortunately, there is no cure for me. There aren’t many options or relief. Life itself has become torture. I have felt like a prisoner within my own body. I’m tired of suffering. I’m tired of fighting to live, only be sick and miserable. This is not a quality life for me.

Reading over her blog, she comes across as a sensitive, intelligent, nice, thoughtful, interesting person. Apparently though, just telling a person’s real life story isn’t good enough. Maybe they think people can’t/don’t want to relate to someone committing suicide. So they turn it into a fairytale love story. This happens all the time at funerals, by the way, and I don’t get the point of it. The people who knew the guy know it’s not true, and the people who didn’t really know him, now don’t know him any better. You’re not respecting a person by giving them a legacy YOU think is important. If you want to make a person’s legacy last after they die, present the plain truth. “Here was an intelligent, beautiful, sensitive woman, whose previous life was cut short by a horrible accident, and chose to die rather than continue in pain. She did x, y, and z. Liked this and the other. Disliked that. Make of it what you will.” Someone else’s life is not your property that you can use to further your own agenda. People grow from learning about the past. When you twist it into another perfect Gadol biography, you are erasing their memory, and any lasting contribution that could have been made on future sensitive, thinking people.

If you want to be moved by a special person who is no longer with us, read some pieces from Christina Symanski’s blog: http://lifeparalyzed.blogspot.com/

A video about her:

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