As I write this I am thinking back on conversations I had with a friend who chose medically assisted suicide. Throughout the whole journey, her one suggestion to everyone she spoke with was, "Don't be sad for me as this is the choice I have made that suits me and I am leaving this world on my own terms and happy." It is hard for us to not overcrowd our minds with our own thoughts and emotions. However, the greatest thing you can do is support the decision they have made and help them make their journey full of happiness and love.
Supporting a family member or friend who has chosen medically assisted suicide can be emotionally challenging, but it's important to approach the situation with empathy, respect, and understanding. Here are some steps you can take to support them:
Listen Non-Judgmentally: Begin by listening to your family member without judgment. Let them express their thoughts, feelings, and reasons for their decision. Avoid imposing your own beliefs or opinions on them.
Respect Their Autonomy: Recognize that it's their choice, and they have made it after careful consideration. Respect their autonomy and their right to make decisions about their own life, even if you disagree with their choice.
Offer Emotional Support: Be there for them emotionally. Let them know you love and care for them, regardless of their decision. Offer a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear whenever they need it. Reminisce about the good times and the fun you had over your life time together.
Seek Professional Guidance: Encourage your family member to speak with a mental health professional or counselor who specializes in end-of-life issues. These professionals can help them explore their feelings, cope with their decisions, and ensure that they are making an informed choice.
Educate Yourself: Learn about the legal and medical aspects of medically assisted suicide in your jurisdiction. Understanding the process and legal requirements can help you better support your family member and answer their questions.
Respect Privacy: It's important to respect your family member's privacy and their wishes regarding who should be informed about their decision. They may choose to disclose it to some family members but not others.
Create Positive Memories: Spend quality time with your family member, creating positive and meaningful memories. Share stories, engage in activities they enjoy, and make the most of the time you have together.
Assist with Practical Matters: Help your family member with any practical matters related to their end-of-life plans, such as organizing legal documents, financial matters, or arranging for medical care in accordance with their wishes.
Connect with Support Groups: Consider joining a support group for family members of individuals who have chosen medically assisted suicide. These groups can provide a safe space to share your feelings and experiences with others who can relate.
Prepare for Grief: Understand that you will likely experience grief and a range of emotions as you support your family member through this process. It's important to seek your own emotional support from friends, family, or a therapist to help you cope.
Respect Their Timeline: Your family member's timeline may be limited, and they may have specific wishes about how they want to spend their remaining time. Try to accommodate their preferences to the best of your ability.
Stay Connected: Even after their decision is made, continue to stay connected and offer support. Let them know you are there for them until the end.
Remember that every family and individual's situation is unique, and the level of support needed may vary. The most important thing is to show love, respect, and understanding to your family member during this difficult time.