I applaud the Nov. 14 Variety article ("Choosing to die with dignity") about VSED — the process of voluntarily stopping eating and drinking — for those who are terminally ill with Alzheimer's disease. Our society has a long way to go to accept individual decisions about death and dying. Having had two parents with Alzheimer's, I can attest to the challenges and difficulties families face in making decisions about how their loved ones wish to die. I strongly believe in patient and family choice. Health care directives are a critical part of the process. Yet, we also need medical and long term care professionals to understand, encourage and support patient and family-centered choices without judgment. Thank you to the Hauser family for sharing their personal story.
Andrea Kaufman, Minneapolis
As a terminally ill patient with ALS back in 2000, my dear mother, who wished to die on her terms, sadly did not have the option of VSED. She was forced to go underground, using the Kevorkian network of compassionate souls who were willing to risk prosecution in order to assist her. The procedure was done under strict protocols that had to be followed to a "T." We could not be with her or it would have put us in jeopardy of prosecution as well.
Terminally ill patients should have the right and choice to die with dignity and on their own terms. I wish for Cheryl Harms Hauser a painless and peaceful transition. God bless.
Mary Kelly Jaeger, Aitkin, Minn.
Kevyn Burger wrote a fine article about Hauser and her intention to avoid food and water to reach a speedier escape from the lengthy ravages of Alzheimer's disease. Oh, this takes courage. My grandmother decided on this and succeeded at age 90 in 1980 under a physician's care. With her family's constancy and her bold determination, death came after 20 years with cardiovascular heart disease, but this is no easy choice. There is suffering. It's painful to starve and do without water.
My mother, languishing at 97 with congestive heart failure, wanted and was ready to die. She tried to stop eating but couldn't. Long since, she had discussed with family and written in her health care directives to allow no extraordinary measures taken to keep her alive. We told the doctor to stop all medicines and turn off the machines. He agreed. She died a natural death, and with what I believe was joyful release, went to her God in 2012.
Eugénie de Rosier, St. Paul
We have control of all aspects of our adult lives — who we marry, having children, our careers, our friends, etc. Why shouldn't we have this same control of our inevitable dying process? Hauser has chosen an admittedly different path but one that is available to everyone at a time of their choosing. The important point is that it is her decision. There is no one size fits all way to die, but some would have you believe there is — the so-called "natural death" where one can linger, suffering for months, with the consequence of near-torture for themselves and their loved ones. I fully support Cheryl's decision and will likely follow in her footsteps if I reach the stage where she finds herself.
Another end-of-life option legal in 10 states (not Minnesota) for a terminally ill, competent adult is medical aid in dying. In these states, a person determined to be terminally ill by two doctors (six months or less to live) who is of sound mind can get a medication to end their life if suffering becomes unbearable. This would not apply to a person with dementia. A person has to be able to self-administer the life-ending medication, but it gives a great amount of comfort at end of life knowing that this is an option. VSED is an available option for anyone wishing to die with dignity. Medical aid in dying is not an option yet in Minnesota but absolutely should be.
Dave Sturgeon, Tonka Bay
KYLE RITTENHOUSE CASE
Media outlets like this one gave a false narrative
If anyone is surprised by the not-guilty verdicts in the Kyle Rittenhouse case, they were probably fooled by the coverage in this paper from wire services like the AP and New York Times, which used the shorthand of Jacob Blake being a Black man shot by a white cop. Or that the riots were about "racial justice." The truth is Jacob Blake was wanted for committing a sexual assault against his sometime girlfriend. There was a warrant for his arrest. He refused to cooperate with verbal instructions by law enforcement. He fought physically with three officers. He was tased and shook off the taser prongs. He then tried to enter an environment — a car — not controlled by the police, where there was a knife, with three small children in the car. Only then was he shot. The protests began with people seeing, again, a partial video, and racializing criminal conduct. Kenosha burned.
The ineptitude of Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers was second only to that of Gov. Tim Walz during Minnesota's riots, but still eye-popping. Evers sat back as Kenosha burned after his incendiary statement that the shooting was racial.
The prosecution of Rittenhouse was underhanded, even deceitful, unethical and finally bizarre: Prosecutor Thomas Binger minimized the damage the rioting caused in Kenosha to a Kenosha jury. Prosecutor James Kraus argued: "Everybody takes a beating." That is a closing argument that is too stupid to live. If "everybody takes a beating," I'm glad it was the prosecution. Readers of the Star Tribune need to branch out and look at nontraditional sources of news.
Alex Andrea, Woodbury
Whatever else might get argued about the trial, a Black man killing two white men would have been convicted on all, or most, counts. That would have been inside of four hours, not four days.
Larry Johnson, Golden Valley
A most difficult year warrants a most welcome raise in pay
The Nov. 14 front-page article "Teachers' most difficult year" was very informative. Teachers are truly exhausted, as the article points out. Often they have to take on a heavier teaching load when substitutes can't be found. Let's hope all Minnesota teachers get more than the 5.9% cost-of-living wage increase (that we Social Security recipients will receive in 2022) when salary negotiations come around. They deserve it.
Ruth Thorstad, Dresser, Wis.
'A display of just a little forbearance' — demonstrated
A Nov. 18 letter that spoke in favor of a sense of collective responsibility for our human community in the face of inconvenience ("We could all stand to display just a little forbearance") reminded me of an incident years ago. Starhawk, a national leader in women's spirituality, was speaking at Plymouth Church in Minneapolis. The audience was primarily women. A baby started fussing. Starhawk stopped speaking, asking us to just listen to the baby. All was silent except for the baby crying. Then, from the audience, a woman began to softly sing a lullaby. Others joined in, and soon the whole room was singing to this baby. The baby stopped crying. Starhawk resumed her presentation.
This event, that still brings tears to my eyes in the recalling, speaks to being present, rising to what is needed in the moment, and love.
Nadja Reubenova, Minneapolis
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