There was no dignity in my father’s death.
Edward Leroy McElroy died a year ago today. He had been admitted to a hospital in Anniston, Ala., about a month before that. He was only 87 years old and he had been in excellent physical health six months before this. But when I reviewed his journal entries from the 18 months before his death, he talked often of wanting to die — and of the possibility of killing himself.
I had several conversations with a hospital social worker while he was waiting to die. She told me there was nothing specific wrong with him. He had some minor infirmities that are typical of older age, but if he hadn’t spent the previous months starving himself, he would have been fine. The social worker told me that he was too weak and frail by the time he was hospitalized. Doctors couldn’t make him strong enough to survive.
He had given up long before this. He wanted to die. He got his wish about 4:30 a.m. on April 17, 2018. A nurse named Linda Anderson was the only human being with him when his life slipped away.