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DH and I having a terrible argument over euthanasia

(69 Posts)
Hedgehead Tue 04-Mar-14 23:02:09

A very elderly relative of mine (my family) has been in a minimally conscious coma now for a couple of weeks. She is still breathing alone, but cannot do anything else. Consultant has told us there is 99.999% no coming back from this point and has given us a range of (heavy inverted commas) "treatment" options. Eg, withdrawing feeding and having her "feed herself," an 8 hour operation with a strong GA that she has 95% chance of not waking up from etc... you get the drift.

My family have all been very upset and torn over the decision of which "treatment" course to take and it's not something we've entered into lightly. I was very close to her and have been going frequently with DH to sit by her bedside in hospital.

We reached a unanimous family decision last week to withdraw feeding (not fluids), increase pain relief and allow her the death she wanted (she made it very clear if she was ever in this position she would want to die as quickly as possible.)

But guess who is not happy? DH. Out of nowhere. He has started picking fights about it, challenging me about the decision, accusing me of not caring for her, of wanting to "get her death over with" so I can get on with my "busy schedule." He has told me he finds my attitude "disturbing."

I have reminded him that as supportive and wonderful as he has been to my entire family, it is not his decision to make or judge once it is made. I told him that it was not about 'him,' that it is his job to play a supportive role in this, and when it is his parents or elderly relatives are dying, I will go along with whatever they want and be supportive.

He's just stormed out. I am first of all devastated that this is happening to my relative and now that's compounded by my DH's attitude to me and his accusations which make me out to be a monster. AIBU?

talullah57 Tue 04-Mar-14 23:21:11

Firstly, I am so very sorry for your poorly relative. Your H has been supportive. I do think he deserves a listen. However, I would stress that your relative would not be happy with his decision for her. He is part of your family and should be heard. Try not to get into an argument about this as it is an extremely emotive time for you all. You're not being unreasonable but he does have an opinion and it should be heard. 'I hear what you're saying, but this is what Auntie Mary wants', etc. I have been there. xxx

talullah57 Tue 04-Mar-14 23:23:05

Also, withdrawing treatment is NOT euthanasia. Please remember that.

talullah57 Tue 04-Mar-14 23:23:05

Also, withdrawing treatment is NOT euthanasia. Please remember that.

JumpingJackSprat Tue 04-Mar-14 23:25:33

You already know what your relative would want. It has fuck all to do with your husband.

BrianTheMole Tue 04-Mar-14 23:30:02

I suppose what they are doing is a variation of the Liverpool care pathway. How old is your relative op? And what did she go in hospital for?
I've just been through this with my dad. He didn't make it. We fought the hospital to the bitter end to keep treating him. Maybe your dh is like me and can't accept the inevitable. Its a tough choice to make.

sadwidow28 Wed 05-Mar-14 00:08:43

Brian, the option for the OP's elderly relative is NOT anything to do with the Liverpool Care Pathway. That was about medics removing food, water and treatment from elderly patients who had no chance of recovery. But their demise was ugly and painful.

The OP has specified that artificial feeding will be withdrawn, but not liquids. The OP and family are clearly trying to find the most gentle way of letting the elderly relative go.

So many of us are faced with similar decisions now that medical intervention and treatment has progressed so much.

OP, your husband does have a right to express his opinion and to be heard. Listen to what his options/choices are and then perhaps you will be able to understand and reflect back.

Don't forget that this is a highly charged and emotional circumstance. You just have to find a way to stay strong together because you will possibly doubt your decision after it is over. Then you will need to cry on your DH's shoulder. If you are on the same path, it will be easier to cling to each other for support after your relative has passed.

I send prayers and blessing for your relative and the whole family. May your Aunt pass peacefully to the next stage of her journey.

Hedgehead Wed 05-Mar-14 00:12:59

Thank you for your replies so far.

The relative is 95. She had a stroke and was immediately completely paralysed - couldn't swallow, move, speak, anything.

My DH appeared to be going along with all our decisions, that's the funny thing. When we discussed it, he appeared to be of the same thought process as us. Now that we've made the decision and DH and I are in the privacy of our own house (not in front of my family) he is taking it out on me and blaming me for not caring.

We have a holiday booked for the end of March - non refundable, thousands of pounds. I said to DH if she dies before then and we have the funeral we will still go. If she doesn't, we will cancel it. He said 'how can you even think about going on holiday even if it is all over by then? How can you even have this conversation? We should call and cancel it now, forget the money.'

This of course makes me feel terrible, and DH obviously has the moral highground. I don't understand whether he is taking the moral highground for the sake of the moral highground, or this is genuinely his conviction. When we were preparing to get married I didn't know he carried this belief system.

And the thing that gives his argument more weight, is that he has integrity with it. He will sit for hours at her bedside with me (she lives 2.5 hours away and we travel there and back, together, every other day.) So it's not like he's taking it up as a fleeting cause, he's been intimately involved from the start.

I end up shouting at him saying I have known her for over 30 years and you've only known her for the last 5. She had the conversation with me about what she wanted to happen if she was in a situation like this, and I am trying to fulfil her wishes!

But DH is making me out to be a monster. This is horrible.

BrianTheMole Wed 05-Mar-14 00:22:48

That was about medics removing food, water and treatment from elderly patients who had no chance of recovery. But their demise was ugly and painful

I don't believe it is. Lcp is supposed to be a way to provide patients a way to die comfortably. If thats not true then I'm interested in your links to this. My father was in this same position, I certainly hope you are wrong. They didn't withdraw food at our request, (right up to the end) but prior to his death he was on a variation of the lcp, even though he was given liquid food. I believe his end was peaceful, not ugly and painful. angry

tallwivglasses Wed 05-Mar-14 00:24:59

I'm so sorry, this is an awful situation. How close is he to your relative? I've met activists who would feel the same way as your DH. The holiday thing I find weird. Surely life goes on? You carry the grief with you and deal with it. What is he so afraid of?

BrianTheMole Wed 05-Mar-14 00:29:37

Op, you are completely right, what you are doing is right. Your dh is struggling to come to terms with it, and he's taking it out on you. But don't ever doubt yourself.

ScrambledeggLDCcakeBOAK Wed 05-Mar-14 00:34:11

It is very simple.

YOU have NOT made any decision, SHE has! As her relative it is your duty to carry out her wishes. He needs to deal with that fact.

I had a similar situation with my dad. I had to fight with the hospital to turn off the ventilator after a massive stroke. He had made sure from when I was a small child what he wanted and even though it broke my heart I had to follow his wishes!

8 years since he died and I miss him everyday but he wouldn't have wanted to live with the massive damage the stroke had caused

Abbierhodes Wed 05-Mar-14 00:34:39

Does he often pick fights?

Floralnomad Wed 05-Mar-14 00:42:33

Perhaps your DH is worried about his mortality and what decision you would make for him . We were in a similar position last year and my DH ,his brother and my MIL made a decision about my FIL that I frankly found very worrying , to the point that I said to my mum that DH is not to be allowed to make a similar decision if I am the patient . As it is he now thinks the wrong decision was made and sadly he has to live with it and we just don't talk about it as it is too upsetting for him to know how wrong he got it . In your case ,you know what your relative would want so just need to work through it with him .

TheVictorian Wed 05-Mar-14 00:42:52

Op The main question that arises: is why was your dh happy to go along with the situation until now?

Dirtybadger Wed 05-Mar-14 00:48:09

You are right about LCP Brian. It is just a plan on the palliative care someone will receive. In a nutshell. Not sure where the no feeding idea came from.

Sorry to hear about your relative OP. Reassure your dp that medical staff wouldn't have given you any option were it unethical. You chose the option most in line with the patient's wishes as far as you know. Nothing more you can do. I agree you can listen to his POV, perhaps he feels very strongly about this (and always has?) so finds this decision distressing. But if you are listening to your detriment you should perhaps agree in advance how you will let one another know when you're "done" with the conversation. You don't need to be running over things any more than necessary. It's ok to disagree but it's unfair for either one of you to send the other on a guilt trip for their views.

Bogeyface Wed 05-Mar-14 01:33:16

He doesnt want that death for himself and he is frightened that you will do that if he was in that situation, despite the fact that you made this decision based on what your relative wanted.

In order to deal with this I would spell out that you are carrying out your relatives wishes, then ask him what he would want you or your children to do if that was him and promise to do that. Perhaps even arrange a living will for each of you, so he can feel safe about his future.

gertiegusset Wed 05-Mar-14 01:49:08

With all due respect, he has known her since she was 90 years old and now she has had a stroke.
He is sitting with her for hours at a time.
It must be taking you hours to get there and back every other day

Does she even know who he is?

It does sound like he's scared.

How is he managing to go to work during all this?

gertiegusset Wed 05-Mar-14 01:53:09

You also sound as if you have a large involved family.
It is the family's business, not his.
That is not to say he is not family but other people are closer than he is and he should wind his neck in.

LineRunner Wed 05-Mar-14 02:02:32

He's scared. I agree he needs to talk about what he would want in that situation.

It's one thing to think it in theory, but another to see it happening to a real person. Mortality makes us all very small people; but there are big emotions for those watching it from close quarters.

gertiegusset Wed 05-Mar-14 02:05:49

My only weirdy bit about this is, if your DH has only known her for 5 years, and you have only known her for 30 years and she is only got to know her when she was 65.
And you live 2.5 hours away, how is it that you are so close?
Does'nt make for close in my family.

I lived 3 hours away from my Mum and I spent almost a year with her on and off after she had a stroke, it was not easy.

gertiegusset Wed 05-Mar-14 02:08:52

Since my Mum died and DH got cancer we have had ALL the conversations about what will happen and what we will do.

It is shit.

Bogeyface Wed 05-Mar-14 02:19:15

gertie Your families "right" doesnt make other familes wrong. Could you be more insulting?

Bogeyface Wed 05-Mar-14 02:21:01


gertiegusset Wed 05-Mar-14 02:39:49

Seems to me Bogey that this dh doesn't know the person who is so very ill very well.
She has family who do know her well and their views and feelings are more important than someone who has known her for five years at the end of her life.

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