Making end-of-life decisions was the topic of last summer’s episode “The Party” on the Netflix series Grace and Frankie, starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. Babe, a treasured friend of Grace and Frankie played by Estelle Parsons, is experiencing a resurgence of her cancer, and it is devastating her body. Instead of taking the course of further treatment, as her friends suggest to her, Babe decides to take matters in her own hands and determine the course of her untimely end.
Babe decides to die as she has lived, by her own rules, and not by society’s standards. By extension, this episode illustrates how living by your own rules includes making decisions about your own healthcare and death. Being in control of your own death when you are lucid and physically able ensures that you can make carefully considered decisions when your health and state of mind decline later in life (or from injury).
No matter your age or station in life, being prepared by taking control of your end-of-life care ensures you are able to plan your own pain and healthcare management, when the prognosis of continuing painful treatments is bleak. When you envision a plan and arrange for your life’s end, you are able to die with dignity and not as a long-term burden to family, friends, and resources.
Of course, Babe’s decision to forego more medical treatment in “The Party” is met with resistance from her friends. But after discussions with her, they understand that Babe has thoughtfully and soberly planned her own end. They finally come to respect that the decision is hers alone to make. At the conclusion of the episode, they all come together to celebrate Babe and her life, with love and joy in friendship.
(Photo from the Netflix series “Frank and Gracie”. Use of image is for illustrative, education and instructional purposes only)