Death is the inevitable end to life. We believe that people should be supported to have what they consider to be a “good death” whenever possible. What constitutes a “good death” varies from person to person according to their personality, medical condition, and personal circumstances.
For many people, palliative care provides sufficient support and care to facilitate a good death. The National Council for Palliative Care define palliative care as “the active holistic care of patients with advanced progressive illness. Management of pain and other symptoms and provision of psychological, social and spiritual support is paramount. The goal of palliative care is achievement of the best quality of life for patients and their families.” MDMD strongly supports the efforts of the palliative care community, and shares their desire for a well resourced consistent service available to all who can benefit from it.
But what if the best quality of life available to a patient falls permanently below the level they are able to accept? For some, their combination of incurable losses of dignity, purpose, mental capability, sources of pleasure etc. combined with their rational belief that their life is complete and a constant desire for their life to end, is simply not a life they wish to live anymore.
MDMD believes that a compassionate society should respect and assist with people’s individual end of life wishes. For some, a “good death” means a pain free medically induced death by lethal medication – going to sleep peacefully and never waking up, possibly in the company of close friends and relatives, at a time chosen by the person themselves. Some people would choose this time to be as soon as incurable illness has permanently reduced their quality of life to the point which they consistently feel makes it no longer worth living.
Assisted dying is not yet legal in the UK, so this form of good death is currently denied to those who would like it. (See the story of Joan Cheatle’s death for example.).
The pages in this section describe various steps that people take to have some control over their own death. MDMD does not believe that any of these options is a substitute for the option of an assisted death in this country, following professional consultation and using prescribed lethal medication which is used under medical supervision. Given the lack of this compassionate option, MDMD understands why those who are denied the assisted death they would like feel that they have to resort to one of the more extreme of these options.