Sixteen Reasons NOT to Join the Final Exit Network
Faye Girsh, Senior Advisor
So, you don’t think joining Final Exit Network is for you – or at least not right now. Take a look at these reasons not to join – and our rebuttal – and see if you might think otherwise after thinking about it.
1. My doctor says he won’t let me suffer.
Good, but what does that really mean? Will s/he prescribe medication? Probably not. What if s/he is retired by the time you are ready to die? Many doctors say that but few are specifically prepared to help you have a peaceful death. Besides, unless you are an Oregon resident, you are asking your physician to break the law to help you die. You need more specific information.
2. Hospice is all I will need.
It is true that most people who have hospice care die with dignity and in comfort. But you may be one of the few for whom hospice treatment is not enough. You may want to exit sooner, and hospice cannot hasten death. Or you would like to have hospice but still know that you can plan your death but you are not sure how to do that. The Final Exit Network has that information.
3. I have a Living Will; what else do I need?
Excellent, and we hope you have also designated someone as your health care surrogate in case you cannot speak for yourself. But your living will only applies to treatment that you might want to refuse or discontinue. You may be among the 50% of people who are NOT hooked up to machines. If you wanted to die then your options would be very limited. The Final Exit Network can help.
4. I don’t believe in suicide.
Suicide for emotional reasons, where a life is ended prematurely, is a tragedy. That kind of death is often violent, lonely, and leaves the survivors with guilt and shame. Hastening your own death because you have a physical condition that has irreparably compromised the quality of your life and causes unbearable suffering for which there is no acceptable remedy is different that suicide.
5. I am really glad the Network is around so I can contact you when I need you.
Thanks, but we cannot stay around unless we have a strong membership base to support us financially. Your membership and other contributions sustain our programs so that they are around for people who need them now and will be there for you when you need help. But supporting the Network is more than an insurance policy. It means that we are a strong and important organization that can be a force in influencing public opinion if we have thousands of members who support the idea of choice and dignity at the end of life.
6. I have a .38 in my drawer.
If you use a gun to end your life you are taking a chance that you will miss and cause horrible damage to your brain or face. Your death will also traumatize the person who finds you with your head shot off. We believe a person should have a choice to die gently, quickly and with certainty—and with those who love him at his bedside to remember that he had a peaceful death and was able to say good-bye and I love you.
7. My kids know my wishes and will do what is right.
What does that mean? Are you asking them to put their liberty at risk by helping you die? How will they know what to do? And, what if they don’t agree with your wishes? We believe that death should occur with your family present and we can help you arrange that without putting your kids in legal danger if you choose the Final Exit Network.
8. I plan to die in my sleep. I never had a bad death in my family.
About 10% of us will die in our sleep—maybe you’ll get lucky. Odds are, though, that you’ll be in the majority and that you may experience a hard death. You may be among the few who would want to plan their death rather than endure prolonged suffering and indignity. For that, the Network is able to help.
9. I give to Oregon.
Great—and keep supporting Oregon’s efforts to maintain the Death with Dignity law. But unless you live in Oregon, and qualify under the law, you may not be able to die with dignity elsewhere. Of course, the law has been threatened since it first passed in 1994, so you have to have another plan. The Network can provide information and support if the Oregon law does not work for you.
10. I’m only 35; it’s too early to worry about dying.
We hope you have many happy years left and that the cure for death is found by the time it would strike you. Otherwise, the reality is that people die earlier than they planned, or that your parents and loved ones might need your help, and that—whether you ever need the Final Exit Network or not—you should still support the right of others to have choice and dignity at the end of life.
11. I already support a lot of organizations and I can’t take on another one.
There are many important causes out there—animal rights, conservation, your church, starving children, political candidates, and other worthwhile things that need support. Chances are that none of them will as directly affect you and those you love as death. It is the only guarantee on the planet—and it can be the one time in your life where you will could lose dignity, control, and comfort. You need to include the Network in the causes you support—and put it at the top of your list.
12. I definitely support what you do; I’m just not a joiner.
For every member we have—and there are upwards of 3000 there seem to be another dozen or more “supporters” who believe in what we do but just don’t join things. We can appreciate that; you will get more mail. But we cannot continue to fight for our right of self-determination at the end of life with just fellow travelers. We need dues-paying members. Join now.
13. Talking about dying is morbid and it’s against God’s will.
We think it’s morbid—and not smart—not to plan for the one inevitable aspect of life. Actually, Network members are a fun-loving bunch. People who are willing to rationally face unpleasant aspects of life generally are more interesting than those who hide their heads in the sand. We don’t think God would want you to suffer, when there are ways out that are provided. Just as technology can extend your life, maybe beyond the point where you die “naturally,” it can also help you alleviate your suffering and that of your family if you should have a difficult death.
14. I already know what the Final Exit Network is about. I don’t need to join.
Like any other movement or idea, things change a lot in the right-to-die movement and in what we have to offer our members. We want to keep you up to date about what is available to you. Besides, maybe you don’t really know what we’re about. You should read our materials, receive our quarterly publication.and talk to our Exit Guides. You may learn a lot.
15. The Network just doesn’t go far enough.
Maybe so, but who does? It’s not that we don’t know what the needs of people are; it is that the law changes one step at a time. We talk about more alternatives than any other organization in this country. We belong to an international federation – the World Federation of Right to Die Societies -- where changes, in some cases, are being made faster than in this country, and we bring these to you. If we went too far too fast, there wouldn’t be a Final Exit Network, we’d all be in jail.
16. What really worries me is Alzheimer’s and the Network doesn’t do anything about that.
We understand—and you are in the company of many older people who fear that they will lose control of their future and their personhood. But we can help as long as you are still mentally and physically able to help yourself. We can work with you should you have an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. Even if not, we can help your family understand what their choices are should dementia strike you or one of your loved ones.
Revised July 2010