Right to Die: A Daughter’s Perspective

Please welcome Dani from A Heart On The Matter.


It was January 16, 2004.  I remember like it was yesterday.  I was woken from a sound sleep just after 11 pm.  We didn’t answer the phone. Instead we screened the call wondering who would be calling at that late hour? The screaming pain and agony in the voice on the recorder I knew instantly, it was my mom’s husband.  I had long known this day would come, and now it was here.  A sort of numbness ensued, perhaps a little bit of shock.  I took a few moments to collect myself before returning his call.  He was in near hysterics and there was little I could do but be the calm soft voice on the other end of the phone.  And so I was shelving whatever I did or didn’t feel because right then his pain was more important than mine.  There would be subsequent conversations, albeit not many, we were never close.  In fact I would not even say that we truly liked each other.  We got along… because of my mom.

This was how I learned of my mother’s successful suicide. She shot herself in the head in the shower and her husband  found her.  She and I spoke about it many times over the years, and I always knew that one day she would actually do it.  She talked to him too, but he couldn’t allow himself to believe her even though he knew better than anyone how much she suffered.   She carried that gun with her everywhere.  It made me so nervous when we would go to lunch because I knew the gun was in her backpack.  She said it made her feel safe.  I knew that she needed it close for the moment she decided to go through with it.  I always asked her if she could just call or send me something to say good-bye?  She would tell me softly what I already knew to be true, that there wouldn’t be time once she got up the courage. So I accepted long ago that one day this call would come.

Now you are all probably wondering why I just accepted this and didn’t try to do anything about it?  Well I did try to do something about it, but the truth of the matter is there are some things you just cannot fix.  My mother did not just give up on life.  She suffered most of her life  before making up her mind, and even then she struggled with it. Not the act of doing it, but the pain that doing it would cause others.  She had been in therapy for as long as I can remember.  She had been to a multitude of doctors and had too many tests to count, some of them quite invasive.  Even exploratory surgery at one point.  She had some sort of stomach issue that would cause her to vomit violently nightly from the high amounts of accumulated acid and the doctors never could figure it out or cure it. It was so violent on one occasion that she even gave herself whiplash while vomiting.  She suffered horribly with allergies and a lot of the time could not even leave the house because they were so severe.  She had deep inner demons that she could not face despite all the therapy and soul searching.  Sometimes, there are things that we just can’t get past.

Was she mentally ill?  She suffered from depression, and she was definitely ocd.  She tried many anti-depressants but could not deal with the effects of any of them.  For many of us, myself included, the side effects of the medicines that take away whatever issues we are dealing with can leave us in such a state that one has to ask, What’s the point?  For those of you who take such medications I know you know exactly what I mean.  I have hyper sensitivities and a myriad of other things I deal with. There are medicines that would make that part of my life so much better, but sadly, for me, they also take away all the parts that make life worth living, my passion, my creativity, all the good stuff.   So I  choose to find other ways to deal with said issues; but it is my choice; just as it was my mother’s choice not to.  I support that choice, and I am glad she is finally at peace.  I do wish she could have found that peace here in life, but for her that did not seem possible.  How selfish would it be of me to expect her to continue to suffer just so I can have her around??? If you ask me, that’s pretty damn selfish.  That said, it does hurt. I think I am still grieving in part even today. There are special times and moments that we will not get to share.  She did not get to attend my wedding. I like to believe that she was there in spirit and that she was very happy.  I also believe that her essence lives on, and so leaving this place was merely a transition.  I feel she is still with me when she wants to be, but mostly I know she no longer suffers, and that means everything to me.

I do think we should exhaust every avenue before giving up. Generally speaking when people attempt suicide it is a cry for help, and help should be there for those crying out. I did everything I could to help my mom but in the end I had to respect her decision.  I believe we should all have the option of assisted suicide, especially if we are terminal, but even if our chances just aren’t good and that’s the choice we make.  Have a party and say goodbye to our loved ones, wouldn’t that be so much nicer? Lastly, we cannot know anyone else’s pain, and it is not ours to decide whether or not they can deal with it, whether it is emotional or physical, or like in my mother’s case both.  Compassion and understanding are always in order.

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34 thoughts on “Right to Die: A Daughter’s Perspective

  1. I am so sorry for your loss. I completely understand where you’re coming from as far as your mother is concerned. My mother suffered from mental illness (depression, schizophrenia) for most of her life and in 2010, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She has often said she wish she could die, and I hope that her wish is granted, to ease her suffering. It is not easy having such an ill parent. Sending you a hug.

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  2. I’m sorry for the pain of loss you had to go through. My mother suffered with depression too and I inherited. I know exactly what you mean about the medication. I don’t take them either. My mother’s been gone 21 years and I too believe she is with me. I hear her and feel her. I dream about her when I’m stressed. I hope both of our mothers found the peace and happiness they didn’t have in life.

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  3. Love you Dani, thanks for sharing your story. I can relate in so many ways as I have gone through something very similar with a loved one. I am so sorry that you endured this, but do completely understand exactly how you felt and all you went through. I agree that your mom is now at peace. Hugs to you my sweet friend

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    • I remember well about your favorite aunt Debra. So kind of you to read and respond to my story. It was hard to write at first…but I felt the perspective needed to be shared. We all go through stuff and it helps to know we are not alone. xoxoxo to you sweet friend.

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  4. Sorry for your loss. I hear these kinds of stories, and I know that sometimes things will play out, no matter how you try to stop them. But no one should have to suffer endlessly. Answers would’ve benefited her, but you did the best you could.

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  5. Dani, thank you for sharing. We can’t know the demons that haunt the mind of a loved one who commits suicide, and to call the person out as selfish is selfish on our part. I’m so sorry for your loss and the memory that is etched in that day. Peace be with you.

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  6. Thank you for sharing this with us.
    It is interesting to switch the perspective – so often the argument is that suicide is selfish because it leaves those behind in pain… but, you are absolutely right, it is also selfish of those who would be left behind to demand someone in pain stay just for them.
    I think we should all have the choice to live or die as we please. Sometimes people will make the wrong choice, and that is okay… it was still their decision to make.

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  7. Thank you for writing this. I went through a similar experience with my father, when I was eleven – old enough to understand that it had been a choice, but not really old enough to empathize. Most of the time I am glad he isn’t suffering anymore, if I think of him at all. Other times, suddenly, unexpectedly, I am that abandoned little girl again. Still, I defend his right to have made that choice, and while it might not have been the best solution, it was the only one he felt he had – and I think, truly, a better solution than just continuing on in pain. These are important stories to share. There is no shame here. Grief, yes, but no shame – and more than a little relief. There is nothing more personal, more sacred, than the right to self-determination – and that includes the right to die. Thank you for your brave honesty.

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  8. Thank you for your kindness Akire. It’s funny I don’t feel brave… but I knew her heart and I felt I had to share how she felt and her perspective as well as mine. Many were angry with her… but they did not know truly how she suffered. She needed someone to be on her side for once. 🙂

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  9. Im sorry for all you and your family has suffered through.
    I feel if your in that much pain, cant blame you for wanting to end it. She is in a better place…
    peace with out pain….I believe there is a better place after this life.
    thanks for sharing

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  10. Compassion and understanding. Always and in whatever situation. I’m always sorry to hear that someone has taken their own life, out of compassion for that person and whatever they had been living with to get them to the point where peace can only come through death.

    Thank you for sharing your story, Dani.

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