Why I Chose Euthanasia: 80-Year-Old Woman Explains Herself on TikTok
Euthanasia is a controversial subject. One woman, near the end of her life, wants to get people talking.
“When I’ll be ready, I’ll know,” says a woman in her mid-80s.
She’s talking about euthanasia, and since medically-assisted death is so controversial, she’s decided not to divulge her name. Instead, in a series of TikTok videos where she describes why she’s choosing euthanasia, the elderly woman is called “Bubbie” by her granddaughter, Ali Tate.
“I wanted to have a conversation,” says Tate.
When Bubbie was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer, she accepted the diagnosis with grace. She had known for over 30 years that, when the time came, she would choose medically-assisted death.
Is euthanasia legal?
Bubbie lives in Canada, where euthanasia is legal within a set of controlled parameters.
Since June 2016, physicians have been legally able — if it aligns with their beliefs and values, to provide medical assistance in dying to patients with serious —incurable illnesses causing unbearable physical or mental suffering.
In 2021, the Canadian government announced, “you do not need to have a fatal or terminal condition to be eligible for medical assistance in dying.”
Patients must also be over the age of 18 and mentally competent to make a voluntary request and give informed consent. Euthanasia is also legal in a dozen states and in several countries around the world.
When Bubbie expressed her wishes to her granddaughter, Tate at first thought it was a “terrible idea.” Through repeated conversations with Bubbie, she began to understand that “body sovereignty is the highest value from which everything must flow.” She asked her grandmother if she would agree to express her views on TikTok to help others think about death and understand her choice.
How does euthanasia work?
In the videos, the elegant octogenarian answers all of Tate’s questions, from how the medical community deems eligibility for medically-assisted death to how she feels as the time gets closer. Bubbie answers all of the questions matter-of-factly and without fear. “I’ve always made my own decisions for myself,” she says at one point in the video.
Bubbie also demystifies the process, explaining how the most pain she’ll feel is a prick in the hand. The first injection is a pain medication that will put her to sleep, after which she’ll feel nothing of the two more injections that follow.
@alitatecutler Replying to @Matthew This was the hardest and most beautiful conversation ive ever had. Healing for both parties. I had resistance to Euthanasia before this, but after being with her and hearing her, I no longer do. ❤️ #euthanasia #finalfarewell #ondying ♬ multiverse – Maya Manuela
The elderly woman reassures viewers that medical personnel reminds her regularly that she can change her mind anytime. And while she hasn’t chosen a date just yet, when the time comes, she’s certain she’ll make the appointment with confidence.
“I came in quietly. I’d like to go out quietly,” she states. She says that euthanasia is “the light at the end of the tunnel” of her cancer diagnosis and that she’s looking forward to seeing her deceased husband once again. “I do believe (he) is there saying, ‘It’s about time.’ And I’ll say, ‘Hi…I’m here. That’s it.”
A controversial decision
Her granddaughter is not the only one who supports Bubbie’s decision. The woman is surrounded by loving friends and family. Says Tate, “I’m proud of my family for supporting Bubbie. We’re focused on her transition and giving her whatever she needs to feel at peace and that she gets the most out of life before it ends.”
@alitatecutler I have so many emotions right now but all im focused on is making this the most memorable week for her #euthanasia #ondying #lastsupper #finalfarewell #grandma ♬ multiverse
Not everyone who has seen the TikTok videos agrees.
Indeed, there has been backlash by people who are against euthanasia and against the video’s glorification of it.
But Tate says she has no regrets about the videos. She believes that death needs to be talked about “because it’s so taboo in the West. You can see how triggered some people are; it’s triggering because most haven’t integrated the fact that they too, are going to die.”
Tate says those who are ready to die have a lot to teach the next generation. And so Bubbie’s comments don’t stop at her thoughts on euthanasia.
Bubbie also encourages people to “laugh, have fun, enjoy your loved ones as much as you can. Tell them you love them. Share, be open, be honest. Talk, just talk.”
And talking is exactly what she’s encouraging people to do in the TikTok series. The videos have gotten millions of views and sparked heated debate. Some viewers praised her, saying “her story ends on her own terms” and “sending her love on her next adventure.” Others are upset, citing their own stories of recovery from illness incorrectly diagnosed as fatal and their feelings that euthanasia is “terrifying to even think about.” But, a testimony to the heartfelt videos, the overwhelming majority of viewers feel compassion and understanding about Bubbie’s choice.
“I feel lucky to have her. I will absolutely miss her,” says Tate about her beloved grandmother.
In the end, it’s about honoring her grandmother by respecting her choices, and carrying on her advice and her memory for generations to come.
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