Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Creepy ... and Unutterably Sad

My friend Susan sent me the link to this story about a famed conductor who, together with his wife, killed themselves in a Swiss assisted suicide clinic.

The couple's children said Tuesday that the couple died "peacefully and under circumstances of their own choosing" on Friday at a Zurich clinic run by the group Dignitas.

"After 54 happy years together, they decided to end their own lives rather than continue to struggle with serious health problems," said a statement from the couple's son and daughter, Caractacus and Boudicca.

The statement said Downes, who became Sir Edward when he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991, had become almost blind and increasingly deaf. His wife, a former dancer, choreographer and television producer, had devoted years to working as his assistant. British newspapers reported that she had been diagnosed with cancer.

Dignitas founder Ludwig A. Minelli said he could not confirm the deaths due to confidentiality rules.

Downes' manager, Jonathan Groves, said he was shocked by the couple's deaths, but called their decision "typically brave and courageous."

"Brave and courageous" ... I do not think that means what he thinks it means. Taking the easy way out would be my assessment.

Brave and courageous is someone like Pope John Paul II who gave and gave and gave of himself for us without counting the cost until he could give no more, until his soul shone like a diamond. Let's face it, none of us seek suffering but equally none of us can avoid it in this life. I think of the graces I have received during those times and then of the good that this mistaken couple may have both given and received should they have chosen courageously to live until their natural end. I pray for their souls, for those in Dignitas, and for their children.

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