Simplistic solution to life's problems

One may be accused of treating life like a child's play, if one will to proclaim that death is an answer to human's dilemmas. However, being denied the choice of death seems equally inappropriate especially when death is possibly the only assurance in life. Death might not suffice as a solution to the never-ending obstacles in life, but this does not imply that we should deny death as an option to answer to life's problems.

Life and death is not solely about oneself; it involves third parties that are likely to be affected by the patient's decisions. In the pursuit of a "good death", one cannot overlook the challenges faced by the patients' loved ones and the significance of their voice. While Nichols argued that our frenzy to pursue the right to a "good death" have incurred "cost and impact on others", Khaw also stressed that "the suffering is not only confined to the dying person". Nichols reasons that since every human life is shaped by kinship or community in one way or another, the means of ending it should not solely be up to the person to decide. Taking this into consideration, less personal autonomy would be exercised, thereby enabling us to circumvent fundamental ethical and moral concerns. The relationship effect works both ways as Khaw illustrated the direct consequence of a person's death is the grieving on the loved ones. Suffering extends to beyond death as it is the deceased's loved ones shoulder that bulk of the burden. Moreover, the treatment process itself is often proven to be physically and emotionally damaging. Khaw mentions that most patients undergo "a slow and inexorable journey towards death" even with good hospice care. As such, the treatment may give the dying and their relatives' false hopes, affecting both parties physically and emotionally. Therefore, the mounting concerns put forth substantiates that although death may seem like an overly simplistic solution to life's problems, the denial of a "good death" is only likely to shortchange humans of another viable solution to their dilemmas.

Society's commitment for the ailing is always the key concern with or without the granting of the right to a "good death". Both authors feared the prevailing phenomenon of the "abandonment of the ailing", yet their arguments for its existence are in direct contradiction with one another. While Khaw felt that the quality of care given to the dying can be enhanced and improved on if death planning is given a wider acceptance, Nichols blame "the notion of a right to a 'good death'" as the cause of the diminishing human's "capacity and skills to care for others".

Nichols highlighted the very fact that the right to death is human's sign of the lost in our capacity and skills to care for others, and also a phenomenon unwanted yet prevalent in our society today - the pursuit of profit at all costs. This clearly highlights the very fact that it is rather simplistic to use death as a solution to life's problems since it is likely to encourage the existing concern of the 'abandonment of the ailing'. However, Khaw effectively discussed how the right to death may open doors to more options for existing problems in the society. He argued that in the context of Singapore, the ever quickening pace of the society have already resulted in patients "either neglect at home (for the elderly) or cost futile care in the wrong setting, tethered to machines, at great pain and discomfort to the patients". Denying patients the right to death is only likely to aggravate this form of abandonment not forgetting additional problems such as being granted the rights to one's own life.

Nichols claims the support for death planning is only an excuse for us to shirk responsibility towards "the weak in sickness and old age", and fighting for the rights to a 'good death' is a sign of societal weakness as we go into the "age of convenience". We are merely using death as an easier solution to solve the problem of an aging population, and this demeans all the efforts that have been catered for the ailing. Nichols felt that "the relativist insistence that what is good is a matter of personal judgment" is a form of ignorance towards the philosophy of life and also a sign of laziness in our part.

Where to draw a line. Nichols felt that allowing the right to choose death is reducing life to "the status of a product". This is so because life becomes attached with an expiry date, where its value decrease with respect to the amount of suffering the patient is undergoing. This raises an important concern as Nichols felt that it is still unclear where the determinant of life's value lies. As such, it is very difficult to determine when and where one should die to die a good death.

Khaw argued for the right to death planning as he believed that it "empowers the terminally ill and preserves self-determination" even up to the last stage of the patient's life. The current acceptance level of the society has denied many the opportunities to plan their own deaths. By the time one is taken ill, there is usually insufficient time for any form of planning. As such, the dying became assigned to the fate that circumstances have forced them into, especially when they become "unconscious or incapable of exercising rational judgment". Khaw warned that the alternative to death planning is "either neglect at home (for the elderly) or cost futile care in the wrong setting, tethered to machines, at great pain and discomfort to the patients".

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