To Gary, living meant having an intact mind. So when he was diagnosed with dementia and lost his memory, his will to live went too. But his body continued on; this was not how Gary wanted it. Eventually, he got pneumonia and his confusion worsened. In the Emergency Room, he dismantled the blood pressure cuff and threw his blankets off the gurney. We tried to calm him, but he just couldn't understand where he was.
"I know this is terrible," his wife sighed, "but I wish he would just die."
I did not think it was terrible. The Gary I knew would rather die than face a long humiliating decline. Besides, wasn't pneumonia sometimes referred to as "old man's friend," a gentler way out when life wasn't worth living anymore?
Gary's wife told the ER doctor she did not want the pneumonia treated; she just wanted her husband to be comfortable.
The doctor said that without antibiotics, Gary would have a miserable death.