Wednesday, March 27, 2019

"Weary of Life," Dignitas Helped Her Die

Spring Friedlander
We were not friends. She was an acquaintance of mine. We were in a group together OLOC ( Old Lesbians Organizing for Change). I also remember Spring Friedlander when she was a plumber and active in Tradeswomen. A couple months ago at an OLOC gathering,  Spring announced that her plans were set and she would exit this world soon. I took the news with a grain of salt. Spring was 75 and moved, looked and acted as though she was in good physical health. Mental health was another issue. She was clearly not okay and had been suffering quite a while. She often dominated meetings with rambling diatribes about her life as well as her plan to die.

Like any quasi-political group, especially one of old women, we were not equipped to address her needs. There was not a lot more to do than tell her when she used too much time that her turn was over. We failed her but we were not alone. Alienation and suicide are at record numbers in this country right now. Getting old is not fun, especially when you are alone.

I believe in assisted suicide. In 1973, at twenty-two, my father, myself and a dentist friend helped my mother die. She had terminal ovarian cancer. She was in pain and was being used to try out experimental drugs and procedures. She had no hope of survival. Euthanasia is mercy. It is now legal in many states including California. But what about legal suicide for depression? There are drugs. There is therapy. There is always tomorrow.

That's why I was so upset to find out that Spring had gone to Switzerland and, with the help of an organization called Dignitas, had made her final exit of this world. Her reason was short and simple: She was "weary of life."

Her memorial page is extensive. She expounds on her life, her motivation for ending it, her accomplishments etc. Spring was obviously a prolific writer. She could have at least had the goal of publishing this work as a memoir.

I don't know how I feel about this kind of suicide. It seems a shame, feels like a waste. Anyone at anytime may feel weary of life. But then it passes. There is always one more pizza. One more movie. One more beautiful spring day. I cannot provide any pat answers. I pass on this information simply as food for thought. Life is long, hard and convoluted. Death is an experience we are all assured of having. Morals and ethics are for pontificators and philosophers not for me. Rest in peace Spring Friedlander. I'm so sorry we failed you.