The following letter was published in the Montreal Gazette on July 18, 2013 in response to an article titled: Why palliative care is preferable to euthanasia.
By Nathan Friedland RN
Just a day before she died in my arms, I found, through the death of my patient, what David Benrimoh describes as “the desire to create and hold onto meaning in one’s life.” I had been present for every step of her deterioration and knew that her wish was to fight with everything she had until her last breath.
Somehow, through palliative care, humour, music, food and her incredible family, we were able to give her one last day free of monitors, beeping, blood tests and doctors coming in and out to check on her, not 24 hours before she died. Her room was a party-zone as she listened to music from the 1980s on an old record player her father had brought in from home, and did her best to dance with what was left of her frail body. As I listened in to the Dirty Dancing soundtrack near her door, I could not stop the tears from running down my face. How could such a young girl, at just 17 years of age, be so strong knowing she was going to die? But she was. Her desire was so deep to hold onto her life and what it meant to her that she would simply not go down without a fight. Later that afternoon, she fell asleep, and didn’t wake up again. Many considered her death tragic, though I doubt that she ever did.
All of us struggle to find ourselves and discover who we truly are, and through death, I realized that I indeed discovered the meaning of my life as a nurse dedicated to helping people.
Providing euthanasia could have deprived my patient of her last day, and that, without a doubt, really would have been tragic.
Nathan Friedland RN