It was a paid obituary, but The New York Times noticed and ran a story about Jane Lotter. That was enough — along with the adorable photo booth pictures of her and the man she married — to make me begin this blog post. As I go along — you have to get to the last third — I see what I think is the real goal of the article: presenting a postcard picture of suicide.
Ms. Lotter took advantage of [Washington state's] Death With Dignity Act.... On July 18, the couple and their two children gathered in the parents’ bedroom. Ms. Lotter asked to keep in her contact lenses, in case a hummingbird came to the feeder [her husband] had hung outside their window.Does this picture make you more likely to take the barbiturate way out if you knew you were dying? Would you dissolve the powder in grape juice or some other liquid? Would you play Gershwin's "Lullaby" or something else? Would you be in your own bedroom, hoping to see a hummingbird one last time? Would you include only your closest family — hugging them in a planned sequence — only your most loved one, or would you go alone? As you imagine the theater of a controlled departure — with details corresponding to Lotter's details — are you more favorably disposed to the "Death With Dignity" approach or not? Are you still thinking about yourself, or did you, at some point in reading this paragraph, shift to picturing other people getting enthusiastic about early check-out time and thinking of yourself as one of the taxpayers and insurance buyers — us the living — who stand to benefit?
The last song she heard before pouring powdered barbiturates, provided by hospice officials, into a glass of grape juice was George Gershwin’s “Lullaby.” Then she hugged and kissed them all goodbye, swallowed the drink and, within minutes, lapsed into a coma and died.