Addie And Jim O'Neil in bright pinks, purples, and blues on a beautiful day outside.
Addie and Jim O’Neil of Wadsworth, Ohio in June 2018 (photo provided by Jim O’Neil).

Click here: Write to your Legislators Right Now.

It’s time Ohio…

I laid my wife to rest January 13. I watched the cancer eat at her from the inside. My children and I stood vigil with her for two weeks at Hospice of Medina County before her body realized it was time to let go. Watching someone you love with all your heart and soul wither away is NOT how they should be remembered but unfortunately it will stay with me for the rest of my life.

We knew the end was near. Her doctors and oncologist told us her cancer was incurable. She was a fighter though, we actively sought treatments, and these gave us over a year together which we made the most of. In the end it wore her down. She was tired, tired of needles, tubes, IVs, pain and nausea. The cancer had totally obstructed her digestive track. She could not eat nor drink by the time she entered hospice on December 23, 2019.

She cried that she could not end her suffering. Bitterly complained that the final kindness she gave our beloved pets was not an option she could choose for herself. If the choice were available, she would have taken it gladly.

I do not know what God has planned for us after death, all I know is that we will ALL find out at some point. I cannot believe that he is a vindictive God and would punish one of his children for accelerating the time of their meeting by a few days, weeks or months.

I have heard and read the arguments against legalizing this final decision. I fully agree that life is precious, and we should do everything possible to preserve and protect it. I find myself dwelling more on the quality of that life, not necessarily the quantity. Today’s medical technologies can prolong life almost indefinitely but what kind of life is it? Just because we CAN do something does not mean we SHOULD. It was only in 1991 that the PSDA federal law (Patient Self-Determination Act) gave us the right to refuse end of life treatment. This led to the rise of palliative care organizations or hospice. Hospice is a wonderful service and I cannot say enough about the kind and compassionate people who work and volunteer there. I consider the ability to voluntarily end one’s life in these specific situations a logical extension of the PSDA and another tool for hospice patients to choose with appropriate oversight.

Every religion considers the taking of one’s own life a sin, including my own. I do not know what God has planned for us after death, all I know is that we will ALL find out at some point. I cannot believe that he is a vindictive God and would punish one of his children for accelerating the time of their meeting by a few days, weeks or months. Ohio Right to Life, an organization I greatly respect that fights for those that can not speak for themselves, is adamantly against this option. I truly do not understand their position. Their literature and arguments immediately make a leap to warning about forced euthanasia and mercy killing. Nothing could be further from the truth, this is about “choice”. One only the terminally ill can make for themselves, no one else.

I understand that the Hippocratic oath says, “do no harm” and that many Doctors feel this prevents them from supporting this option. Please define “harm”, and to “whom”. Watching my wife in a drug induced coma from pain medications grimace, groan and wither in pain at the nurse’s touch was terrible harm in my opinion. Again, this is about choice. If a Doctor or other medical professional cannot support this option, I respect that position, and no one is forcing them to do anything against their own moral code.

There are arguments that this option may “possibly” be taken advantage of by the unscrupulous. However, I do believe that appropriate, common-sense safeguards and checks/balances can be incorporated into the law to prevent abuse. I write this as a final act of kindness for my wife who wished this was available to her.  As such, I respectfully ask our state representatives to support appropriate legislation in Ohio. I also ask you the public to educate yourself on Ohio Senate Bill 249 which has gone nowhere since 2018. Let your representatives know where you stand. It is your choice.

In Addie’s memory, please urge your state legislators to support medical aid in dying for the terminally ill in Ohio.

Jim O’Neil
Wadsworth, OH

Click here: Write to your Legislators Right Now.

Will you write a letter in honor of Addie and others like her who want this option and who may suffer needlessly until a law is passed?

You can write to your Ohio State Senator and Representative from where you are sitting right now.  Click this link to write your letter.  It will connect you to a form where you need only provide your address so that it can send your letter to your representatives.  The letter is written in the form, but you are able to add your own personal thoughts.

9 Responses

  1. I received this letter from my good college friend, Jim O’Neil, who watched his dear wife & my good friend, Addie, suffer in the final weeks of her life from cancer. I chose to remember Addie from our final meeting together ~ a beautiful, vibrant woman so full of life. But, I did watch my brother-in-law suffer for approximately the same of length of time that Addie suffered (2weeks) and I know that it is such an unnecessary ordeal for one to go through who has a terminal prognosis.

    I support legislation for Ohio Senate Bill 249, which would support medical aid in dying for the terminally ill in Ohio.

  2. My brother, Jim, wrote this letter in honor of his amazing wife, Addie. The beautiful picture captures her shining spirit. Even though I live in another state we plan to retire in Ohio. The online form does not allow me to write the letter because my address is out of state. I will write a letter supporting Ohio Senate Bill 249 in honor of Addie’s wishes and memory. I will have to do some research to find out the correct legislator to send it to. God has given us the intelligence to prolong life, it makes no sense that he does not think us capable of providing compassionate, loving options for his children who are suffering.

    1. Hi Ellen,
      Thank you for your note and interest in contacting Ohio legislators. I am sorry for your family’s loss of Addie. You can find senators at the following link and contact them through it. You will have to click on “Find your Senator” links a couple of times to get to the actual search page where you do have to enter an address. You can enter your brother’s address perhaps. The results will display the district number that you have to click on to get to that Senator’s page. Then find the “Contact” button where you can write your letter. You may also want to contact minority leader Senator Kenny Yuko who was a co-sponsor of SB 249. Here is a similar link for the House of Representatives:

      1. I have found the legislators where we will retire. I will send the letters. Thank you so much for your help

  3. Very heartfelt and thoughtful letter. As a nurse who worked hospice in home and facilities, I watched this process, and the profound helplessness of patients and families. I also have lost friends and family suffer the same ravages of end stage disease processes. The time has come for another alternative. Do we not have the right to self determination?
    Thank you
    Shelly A.

  4. While I am so sorry for your loss and your dear wife’s untimely death, must respectfully disagree with any attempts to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Ohio or any other state. Jesus and God weep with anyone going through physical or emotional pain, but they cannot condone the sin of anyone who hastens his or her death by taking a lethal dose of medication, even one legally prescribed by a doctor. Will God forgive someone who commits suicide, whether through legally-prescribed medication or by another means? That’s not for me to judge. He is a God of mercy, but also one of justice. If someone is truly not in his or her right mind when ending one’s life prematurely, probably yes. That could occur for a number of reasons: depression (not uncommon in the terminally ill), feeliing like a burden on loved ones, pressure (subtle or otherwise) from loved or medical personnel that the person’s life is no longer worth living, fear of future pain, and others. But to do so in a cold, calculating way, “I’ve had enough and it’s my right to check out when I want to,” the Holy Scriptures say that we must not put God to the test.

    Lest you think I write these words in a vacuum, rest assured that this is not the case. My late father died in 2011 at age 84 after an eight-year battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. My 88-year old mother-in-law is in a memory care unit of an assisted living facility, also due to Alzheimer’s. And my husband, who turns 65 in January, was diagnosed with frontotemporal degeneration, a less common form of dementia, about eight years ago, although he began showing symptoms about 9.5 years ago. He has been a private-pay long-term care resident for a little over five years. Would I shorten his life or that of my mother-in-law by one month, one week, or even one day? Not on my life! Every minute of life is precious.

    1. Thank you Sue,
      We also agree that every minute of life is precious. Patients in states with a medical aid in dying law report that just having this option available (whether they use it or not) brings them peace and comfort so that they can live the rest of their life without worrying about the suffering they might have to endure in death. Medical aid in dying laws can only be used by those that are mentally competent and terminally ill, so Alzheimer’s patients are not eligible.

      These laws are about the autonomy of the individual. If any adult (mentally competent and terminally ill) does not want to pursue this option, that person does not have to.

      We’d like to direct you and our other readers to our FAQ page for more information on the safeguards and autonomy built into all medical aid in dying laws. There is a link at the very top of our site.

      Thank you for sharing your opinion. We respect your choice not to want this option for yourself. We also respect a terminally ill patient’s choice to use a medical aid in dying law if that is what they want.

    2. I have to ask, where’s your compassion? After witnessing loved ones suffer I don’t understand your hesitancy, but I respect your wishes, so respect others’ wishes. Yes, life is precious, but no one, including you, truly knows God’s will. Live and let live. I wish you and your loved ones peace.

    3. Why should your religion and your views on this subject supersede those of us that suffer and have no options? I find it remarkable that society is fully accepting of someone who is killing themselves slowly with alcohol, food or drugs but is so judgmental of someone who wishes to end their suffering quickly. Let your loved ones languish away but don’t shove your bible thumping beliefs on others.

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