Sunday, July 10, 2011


It would be wrong to call Dudley Clendinen’s essay in Sunday’s NY Times his advance directive for when Lou carries out his threat.

Lou is Clendinen’s nickname for Lou Gehrig’s disease, but theirs is no friendship. There is little uncertainty about what is in store for Clendinen, and he expresses no uncertainty about his plan to end his life before Lou does his worst. But the essay is directive for no one but Clendinen himself.

“We have to be able to see doctors and machines, medical and insurance systems, family and friends and religious as informative -- not governing -- in order to be free,” writes Clendinen, former Times national correspondent.

Clendinen writes about a drug that could might gain him some time, at prices he will not pay. “Lingering would be a colossal waste of love and money,” he writes.

He writes of his mother’s slow descent when “she looked at me, her only son, as she might have at a passing cloud,” and of his adult daughter, “the gift of my life. I don’t know if she approves. But she understands.”

Wherever you stand on decision-making at the end of life, Clendinen’s eloquent essay of acceptance offers unique and valuable insights. See:

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