Progressive Dying: Meaningful Acts of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Journal of Medical Humanities 19 (4):279-298 (1998)
In this paper I use William James's understanding of significance in life to show that for certain patients euthanasia and assisted suicide can be importantly meaningful acts that family, friends, and health care professionals must acknowledge and even, at times, aid in bringing to fruition. Dying with meaning is transformative. It reshapes the lives of others that are left behind, giving to their lives new groundings by engaging them in the meaning of dying for us. For the patient, dying with meaning takes the seemingly formless void in the abyss of death and gives it a significant purpose in the last stages of life itself; it turns potential nothingness into actual significance. To the extent that we outsiders do not help the dying, we condemn terminally ill patients to a meaningless existence until they die
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DOI 10.1023/A:1024936926859
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