Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Stephanie Gray: You Before Me is Better than Me Before You.

The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition has urged its supporters to boycott Me Before You.
The disability rights group, Not Dead Yet has urged people to protest Me Before You.

Stephanie Gray
tephanie Gray wrote an
excellent blog article on the book that the movie - Me Before You is based upon. She begins her article by stating that a friend texted her urging her to read the book Me Before You. Her friend said it will make you raaaaage. This what Stephanie wrote:

So on the weekend, as it poured rain, I curled up and got caught up in the world of the main characters Louisa Clark and Will Traynor. So would I recommend it? Absolutely not. It’s dangerous—very dangerous. Setting aside the obvious problems of blasphemous language and sexual references, the storyline supports assisted suicide—but it does so in a sneaky way, making it all the more dangerous.

Initially Louisa, hired to be a companion and helper to wheelchair-bound Will, was my hero. She was from a family that, while it had its own dysfunctions, overall lived a self-less philosophy:

· Louisa worked so as to help provide for her poverty-stricken family. You before me. 
· Her parents welcomed her sister home when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, and helped care for their grandson. You before me. 
· Her mom quit work to care for the family’s ailing grandfather. You before me.

But the world of you before me was about to collide with another world—the ugly world of me before you. The Traynor family had it all—by the world’s standards: unlimited wealth and the ability to go wherever and do whatever. But they were all miserable because they lacked love:
· Mr. Traynor was having an affair (not his first). Me before you. 
· When Will’s sister Georgina visits and learns of his plan to have assisted suicide in 6 months she gets angry that he would do it, but instead of using the 6 months to give him the gift of time, attention, and love, to try to convince him he’s valuable and should stay alive, she returns to Australia saying, “…this was just a visit…It’s a really good job…the one I’ve been working toward for the past two years…I can’t put my whole life on hold just because of Will’s mental state.” Me before you. 
· Will himself, pre-accident, lead a life of self-indulgence. Me before you.
So why was Louisa my hero initially? When she learns that the parents have agreed to assist Will in his suicide in 6 months’ time, she quits because she doesn’t want to be part of killing. Louisa, you’re my hero. Then she decides to return to work, realizing she can spend the next few months trying to make Will’s life as incredible as possible so he doesn’t choose suicide. Louisa, you’re my hero. Then she takes Will on a life-creating and spirit-building vacation and tells him she wants to devote her life to loving and serving him, but he refuses saying he still plans to commit suicide, so she cuts him off in a decision to remove herself from the killing. Louisa, you’re my hero.

But then it all goes downhill. And I understood why my friend said “It’s going to make you raaaaaaaage.” Almost every single character caves. Mr. and Mrs. Traynor, Georgina, Mr. Clark, Louisa’s sister. And Louisa herself. They all cave. They all encourage, facilitate or are actually present at Will’s suicide the way he wants it.

And a morally un-formed reader will think, “Maybe it’s not so bad after all. Maybe, by being present, that was the loving thing to do.” No, no it’s not. Would they have been present if Will was killing a child? Then why would they be present when Will killed himself? His life is just as unrepeatable, and just as irreplaceable, as a child’s. Life, whether our own or someone else’s, is not ours to take. Moreover, Will couldn’t have gotten to the suicide clinic without their help. So his act of suicide actually turned into their act of homicide. Had they refused to “help” him, especially when, as a result of Louisa’s involvement in his life, he admitted those were the best 6 months of his entire life, Will may have gone on to thrive in a world of human connection and a world of you before me. But we will never know. Because he’s dead. And they helped kill him.

Will was obsessed with control, and argued he needed to end his life because it was the one thing he could control. But he could control more than death—he could control his perspective. Holocaust survivor Dr. Viktor Frankl wrote in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” that “everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances…”

When someone is despairing so much that they can’t see they can choose their attitude, it’s the job of people who care to help them see this, not to feed into despair. As one palliative care website says for why they don’t allow or encourage assisted suicide, “In our experience, the issue of physician-assisted suicide often arises as a response to a complex set of problems which we help people sort through and address.” If only Louisa et al had helped Will sort through and address his problems.

So when the movie is released this Friday, and unsuspecting movie-goers who’ve seen the trailer may have no clue it’s actually about assisted suicide, please boycott the film and encourage others to do the same. And when someone asks why, you could begin by explaining, “You before me is better than me before you…”


Marilyn Phillips said...

Great article. My only problem with boycotts is that they don't usually accomplish their goal, but rather draw attention to the thing in question and result in more people going to see what the controversy is all about. ("Must be interesting!") ie. The 8-year Disney boycoott for example. Or 50 Shades of Gray.

Unknown said...

Stephanie Gray that is a very inspiring article and one of the best I've read on the cult of assisted suicide. I totally agree with it.

Kathy Bachman said...

My sister Phyllis an eighty-six year old mother of six had a stroke and ended up in the hospital a month ago. Luckily,she had retained her swallowing response so, we (my nephew and his two sons) made sure she got water on her dry lips and tongue. Suddenly it dawned on me that we shouldn't have to do that...where was her 'drip' I asked? One of my nieces who had Power-of-Attorney (along with her sister) said, "We have taken all food and water away!" The immensity of her statement didn't really sink in, until later, when her sister (the other Power-of-Attorney) asked why my nephew was hanging around so much, because his mom wasn't going to die for a few more days yet! Which, may me finally realize that they were euthanizing P their mom, who had done everything for them while they were growing up in spite of a shortage of many material goods. Then because Phyllis was agitated (likely because she was hungry and thirsty,) they asked the palliative care doctor to come down and recommend something that would calm her down! He recommended Haldol, which isn't even recommended by the drug manufacturer for use with dementia or Alzheimer's patients. So when I discovered this on the internet that night I phoned the hospital and asked them to discontinue that drug! We, Teddy and I had noticed a distinct change in Phyllis after her receiving it, because we hadn't even been able to get a sponge with a little water between her teeth. The drug had taken away her swallowing response. Every once in awhile her hand would come up as if she was trying to get something! The next day after they had taken away the Haldol they added two more drugs and she lay there breathing as if she was working hard at some job! Her doctor said she was resting comfortably! What a joke! There was simply nothing I could do. I called everyone I knew down east to get some advice but it was a weekend and I didn't have their cell phone numbers. After thirty-years in Pro-Life I was helpless! After about six days Phyllis died and I learned that one of my nieces who had the Power-of-Attorney had done the same to her father-in-law and seemed to think it was the kindest most harmless way to die! Needless to say I didn't go to their idea of a funeral service they prepared for her. I didn't need any more of their solicitations, I had had enough of their ideas concerning life and death!

Alex Schadenberg said...

The purpose of the boycott is to not give the movie producers money.

Sara said...

I am sorry for your loss, Kathy, and the terrible way it happened. Prayers for you and your family.

pragmaticbboomer56 said...

I am so sorry for your loss and having to witness your sister's suffering. A drip might not have saved her life, but she would hsve been more comfortable. Your presence was truly what your sister needed. God Bless.

knittingbiddy said...

Kathy, I am so sorry for your loss. Coming from a through and through pro life doctor who has dealt with these situations many times, you need to understand that this was not euthanasia. When we conflate _allowing natural death from an underlying process_ with euthanasia, we weaken our case against active euthanasia which is the big issue facing us now.

I don't know the details of the case but it sounds like she had a devastating stroke. Not feeding orally was probably done because she was at risk of aspirating (inhaling food into her lungs which would cause pneumonia). Inserting a feeding tube would not prevent aspiration. Giving IV fluids ("drip") does not increase comfort and often can make people work harder to breathe. A drip does not substitute giving good oral care (drips of water/lubricant on the mouth/tongue) which is exactly what you did for her. Meticulous oral care at the end of life is tremendously comforting. Agitation is something that happens frequently at the end of life, no matter the cause, and treating agitation with Haldol is consistent with good palliative care practices. Many drugs we use palliatively are used "off-label" but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot of research backing up their use.

Just because we are pro-life does not mean we need to use every technological means to stay alive when it becomes apparent that natural death is imminent.