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Thank you for your comments on a very interesting but difficult topic. I have to say that for the first time since I started doing this blog, I have completely changed my mind about something based on the comments you wrote.

When I wrote the original entry, I was very strongly in favour of people like Tony Nicklinson having the right to ask a doctor to end their life, but after reading your stories, I can see a real danger in changing the law. In Britain, there is currently a big debate about who should pay for the care of older people. The problem is that the government is going to ask people who have money to contribute to their own care, whereas people who have no money will get it for free. Naturally, people who have worked hard and saved money all their lives are angry about this.

Anyway, if the law were to be changed, I can imagine a lot of situations where sick people would not really want to die, but would worry so much about not being able to leave anything for their children that they would ask the doctors to end their lives. As soon as doing that becomes a legal possibility, the pressure will become enormous for a lot of old people to take that option. Even if no one else puts pressure on them, many will put it on themselves.

As I mentioned before, some people in the UK take the option of going to a place called “Dignitas” in Switzerland, where they can be helped to take their own lives. I used to think this was a good idea until I watched a documentary about it on the BBC. The cameras followed a man with motor neurone disease who had decided to take his life before the illness turned him into a dribbling vegetable. He was incredibly brave, and so was his wife. She accompanied him to Switzerland and sat next to him while he drank a cup of poison. Just before he drank it, he turned to his wife and said, “See you on the other side.” It was one of the most moving things I have ever seen. The reason it turned me against the idea, though, was that after he drank the poison, he seemed to be in a huge amount of pain, and he started begging for a drink of water. It didn’t look like a very peaceful way to die to me. I don’t know what the answer is, but with more people living longer and longer, this is a problem that our societies are going to have to deal with at some point.

Here is some feedback on your comments:

I didn’t expect that you put new entry today.
I didn’t expect you to do a new entry today.

About 17 years ago, my mother collapsed from an acute myocardial infraction(心筋梗塞) and was taken to hospital in a coma.
That must have been very difficult for you. I guess you were still quite young at the time.

but it must be done very very rigidly if it were allowed,
but if it were allowed, it would have to be controlled very strictly

The doctor said to us that there was no chance to return her place in society,
The doctor told us that she had no chance of recovering sufficiently to return to a normal life.

I can’t deny the idea of “euthanasia” because…
I can’t reject the idea of euthanasia because…

Hi, Mr.Barker. Welcome back.
When I read this comment, I couldn’t understand why you were writing a comment to my father! Please feel free to call me David.

In my opinion, I think that the active euthanasia should be legalized under certain circumstances.
You don’t need the first “the,” but apart from that, it is a very good sentence.

The feeding tube prolonged his life for a whole year.
That must have been a very difficult time for your family.

He was extraordinarily brave man.
Don’t forget that even when you put an adverb and an adjective before a countable noun, it still needs a determiner, so it should be “an extraordinarily brave man.”

My heart goes with Mr Nicklinson and his family.
There is a set phrase for this: my heart goes out to Mr Nicklinson and his family.

Visiting him who couldn’t speak anything was really sad and made me feel down.
It seems almost every family has a story like this. It must have been really tough for you.

In my opinion, people should be allowed to decide whether he/she choose to live or end one’s life if they had no chance to recover.
In my opinion, people should be allowed to decide whether they want to live or end their life if they have a terminal illness. [“They” is often used to mean “he or she” in modern English because we do not have an appropriate pronoun for that. Some people say it is “incorrect,” but I think it has become almost standard now.]

I found religion-related comments in there, but I don’t want to consider this from this point of view.
Me neither! It always annoys me when religious leaders are asked for their opinions on these matters. These are people who believe that they have an imaginary friend in the sky who looks after them, so I’m afraid I don’t think they are qualified to comment on serious issues like this that affect both believers and non-believers. They are welcome to have their own beliefs and follow them as they wish, but they should have no influence in deciding laws that the rest of us have to live by.

Am sorry to say this but I don’t think I can have time to comments on this week topic, becourse I am in Okinawa now.
I hope you are having a nice time with your family.

If she had known she could have had assistance with dying, I’m pretty sure she would have felt selfish if she had chosen to try and live on.
This was one of the comments that made me change my mind. I can imagine that my mother would be exactly the same. She has already instructed us to shoot her if there is any danger of her having to go into a care home, and I don’t think she is joking.

In Japan more than 30000 people commit suicide yearly, and the most frequent reason is “health problem”(48%).
I have a Japanese friend whose father committed suicide because he was sick. I think another big difference between Japan and the UK is that Japanese insurance companies will pay out even in the case of suicide. I don’t think that is the case in the UK.

That’s it for today. Have a great weekend, and I’ll be back with a more light-hearted topic on Monday. As always, please feel free to ask if you have any questions about things I didn’t pick up in my comments.

11 Comments

  1. YU on Friday August 31st, 2012 at 03:39 PM

    Hi David,

    Thank you for your feedback!

    >the government is going to ask people who have money to contribute to their own care, whereas people who have no money will get it for free…..if the law were to be changed, I can imagine a lot of situations where sick people would not really want to die, but would worry so much about not being able to leave anything for their children that they would ask the doctors to end their lives.

    !!!
    I agree with you.
    I think it is very dangerous to discuss “who is going to pay” and “issue of euthansia” together.

    >That must have been very difficult for you.

    My mother was still 55 and I was 24.
    She was a very strong woman.
    She told us something similar to what your mother told you.

    >I guess you were still quite young at the time.

    I’m still young, I’m afraid!! 😉

    >I think another big difference between Japan and the UK is that Japanese insurance companies will pay out even in the case of suicide.

    You’re right.
    Japanese insurance companies will pay out even in the case of suicide when your exemption period(normally 2-3 years) is over.

    By the way, when my brother collapsed from an acute myocardial infraction(same as my mother!)last spring, he stayed in hospital for about two months. He payed a lot of money to the hospital, but his insurance company payed out much more than he payed. They even payed his rehabilitation expenses after that. Finally, my brother became richer than before.
    Japanese insurance companies are generous…

    >In my opinion, I think that the active euthanasia should be legalized under certain circumstances.
    >You don’t need the first “the,” but apart from that, it is a very good sentence.

    This sentence is not mine, but I’m often(almost always!) not sure whether I should put “the” or not.
    Your A-Z book(P.26) explains that “例えば、グループ全体について一般的に話す場合はaもtheも要りません”, so “active euthanasia” is the case, too!?

    Here is my sentence :

    “And I have a feeling that it has something to do with (1)the problems of (2)the aging polulation and (3)the low birthrate in those countries, which is very scary to think about, though…”

    I know there are lots of mistakes apart from “the”, but could you tell me if (1)-(3) “the” above are necessary??

    Have a great weekend all!



  2. David Barker on Friday August 31st, 2012 at 05:40 PM

    Hi YU,

    You were 24 years old 17 years ago, but you are still young? Hmmm… Well, younger than me, anyway!

    As for “the,” I wouldn’t worry about it too much. It is almost impossible for non-native speakers to master its use completely. (A bit like “ga” and “wa” for me!) The term “active euthanasia” is the name of a process or a concept, so it cannot be divided. I suppose you could say “the active euthanasia of Mr X,” but that would be unusual. It’s a bit like “murder.” As a general term, it does not need “the,” but you can talk about “the murder of John Lennon,” for example.

    In your sentence, “the” is necessary for all three, so you are correct.

    Hope that helps.



  3. kattie on Friday August 31st, 2012 at 10:09 PM

    Hi David,

    That programme you watched sounds horrifying – I suppose it perhaps shows that it isn’t that easy to kill someone. Actually I didn’t realise how hard/painful it is to die until going through this recently with my mother – I have known many people who have died of terminal illnesses but unless you are really closely involved, you do not see it happen – in developed countries it’s generally kept behind closed doors.

    On the funding side, the UK government currently have to pay for your primary care needs but in practice I think it’s hard to get funding in the in all but the most extreme cases. My mother was only able to get financial help (apart from a very small attendance allowance – which is non means tested) when she was completely bedridden and unable to eat. We didn’t want her to be aware of the costs and we tried to keep this from her but one day she opened a letter from the hospital which was addressed to her and which said that she was not entitled to anything at that time but that when she deteriorated further, she could reapply. It also mentioned that they thought that her mind would eventually go. This letter was extremely distressing to her, as you can imagine, and from that point on we were constantly trying to intercept the post.

    Hi everyone,

    It’s such a difficult subject, these issues will probably affect all of us in some way, at some point but it’s very hard to say what the right answer is but I agree with Yu that money should not play apart in any discussion about euthanasia. The problem with changing the law is that some people will feel pressured into killing themselves because they don’t want the financial burden to fall on their children. It’s interesting that Japanese insurance companies pay out for suicides and I think this must affect the number of people who decide to kill themselves because they are ill. As I said, I don’t know how many of the 6000 or so annual suicides in the UK are health related so it’s hard to compare.

    Hi Anne, thanks for your message.

    Hi Yu, I’m glad you are feeling better, it’s hard looking after young children when you don’t feel 100%.

    I hope you all have a lovely weekend, 2 of our Japanese girls went home yesterday and the house feels very quiet without them. We’ll miss them.

    Kattie



  4. kattie on Friday August 31st, 2012 at 10:11 PM

    I just realised I put ‘apart’ when I meant to say ‘a part’ I hope I haven’t confused you!



  5. Anne on Saturday September 1st, 2012 at 12:09 AM

    Hi David,
    Thank you for your feedback!

    >My heart goes with Mr Nicklinson and his family.
    There is a set phrase for this: my heart goes out to Mr Nicklinson and his family.
    —“go out to” I see. I should have looked this phrase in a dictionary before posting! There are a lot of phrases that I remember “中途半端.”

    >In Britain, there is currently a big debate about who should pay for the care of older people.—Situation is different from the one in the UK, but there are similar problems in Japan. As you know, the number of elderly has been increasing year by year and not only the nation’s insurance system but also the nation’s insurance system for the elderly have been becoming tighter. The service that the elderly get is limited and they need to pay extra money. Yeah, money matters after all. By the way, according to the news, in Japan more than 3 million people will suffer from dementia when they get old in the near future, and this is several years earlier than it is supposed to be.

    > after he drank the poison, he seemed to be in a huge amount of pain, and he started begging for a drink of water. It didn’t look like a very peaceful way to die to me.
    –The program you watched sounds horrible. It looks like “killing.” I mentioned the book “美しいままで” in the entry”Summer Break.” Actually, after reading the book, I alsohappened to watch a documentary on TV. The book was written by a Japanese women who married a man in Holland. When she knew her life was limited, she didn’t want to suffer from pain and wanted to die before that. After talking about this many times with her husband and family, she chose to die at home surrounded by her family. I’m not sure if TV program hid the horrible scene she had pain or not, but she ended her life so peacefully. At least I thought that way. It was done by instillation.

    Have a lovely weekend, everyone,

    Anne



  6. Fumie on Saturday September 1st, 2012 at 07:04 AM

    Hi David,

    I also have changed my mind about euthanasia like Mr. Nicklinson’s case after reading some of member’s comments. It’s a difficult matter but it was a good opportunity to think about it and got to know some knowledge about it.

    >[“They” is often used to mean “he or she” in modern English because we do not have an appropriate pronoun for that. Some people say it is “incorrect,” but I think it has become almost standard now.]

    I thought my sentence was redundant but I couldn’t make it more simpler. I want to write/speak smarter(simpler) sentences but with my limited knowledge it’s difficult. Anyway, I will learn smarter expressions little by little.

    >The reason it turned me against the idea, though, was that after he drank the poison, he seemed to be in a huge amount of pain, and he started begging for a drink of water. It didn’t look like a very peaceful way to die to me.

    That’s horrible. I didn’t watch that documentary of BBC but euthanasia is supposed to die with peasefully not die with pain. It must be so painful for the patients and also family who see their loved ones are dieing.
    I checked this site.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2008380/Dignitas-What-BBC-didnt-reveal-controversial-Pratchett-documentary.html

    >I’ll be back with a more light-hearted topic on Monday.

    I just remembered that you mentioned earlier we will talk about club activities of junior high and high schools of Japan in someday. So please tell us your opinions about this when you have time.

    Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

    Fumie



  7. YU on Saturday September 1st, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    Hi David,

    Thank you for answering my question.
    I see.
    Actually, I knew that it wasn’t that easy…

    > In your sentence, “the” is necessary for all three, so you are correct.

    Oh! That’s a miracle!

    Hi Anne,

    >in Japan more than 3 million people will suffer from dementia when they get old in the near future

    I came across an interesting article about half a year ago and introduced it to my English Club friends. Here it is…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/feb/18/bilingual-alzheimers-brain-power-multitasking

    The article also says, “Nevertheless, learning a language at school and continuing to practise it was also useful”

    So, let’s continue studying English together! 🙂



  8. rinko on Saturday September 1st, 2012 at 03:23 PM

    Hi David.
    Thank you for your feedback!

    As you said, this week’s topic was difficult but also it’s very important to think and discuss with other members. I actually had never thougt about the right to be killed of people like Tony Nicklinson when discussing the theme of euthanasia.
    When I see the article or program of this topic on newspaper and TV,in Japan,they usually take up the example of people who are vegetables or getting painful medical treatments though they have no chance to be better.I think Japan will have the same case as Tony Nicklinson and have various other problems in the near future.Anyway it’s very good to have a chance to discuss this and Kattie and other members’ comments were so helpful that I could think about this topic and know many things I didn’t know.

    I’m looking forward to your next entry.

    Have a great weekend everyone!

    rinko



  9. Fumie on Saturday September 1st, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    Hi YU,

    I read the article you had posted with interest. One comment cracked me up.

    >I thought people speaking only one language were called…er…Americans
    No offence.

    Fumie



  10. Anne on Sunday September 2nd, 2012 at 02:40 PM

    Hi David,

    I have a question about the sentence you corrected. I’m happy if you would answer my question.
    Here are sentences:
    >I didn’t expect that you put new entry today.
    I didn’t expect you to do a new entry today.

    I wonder what is the difference between “I expect that..” and “I expect+O+ to infinitive…”

    I checked the usage of “expect” in a grammar book, and according to that, you can say “I expect that…” but you can’t say ” I expect+O+that…”

    1. So, if I wrote “I didn’t expect that you would do a new entry today.”, is it correct grammatically?
    (I thought I need the subjunctive mood phrase “would do” here.)

    2. In my understanding, the pattern “S+expect+that…” sounds a bit formal, but “S+expect+O+ to infinitive” is more casual. Is that the reason why you corrected that way?

    Hi Fumie,
    I read the article you showed us. The process of Andrew Colgan of dying is so sad.

    Hi YU,
    Thank you for the link.
    Actually, I happened to read an article in a different place related to this,too! I hope studying English works for me…Seriously.

    Hi everyone,
    How is the weekend?
    I bought a new computer and am struggling with it now. I’m not in a mood toying with it at the moment!

    Anne



  11. David Barker on Monday September 3rd, 2012 at 09:28 PM

    Hi Anne,

    “I didn’t expect that you would do…” is fine. Very few people use the subjunctive in modern English, especially in conversation.

    Hope that helps.



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