February 8, 2012

Choosing when to go

His quality of life declining, Norman Morse wants all to know that he's made a very sane and sensible decision.

By Kelley Bouchard kbouchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 3)

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“Why shouldn’t I be able to end my life in a painless, peaceful and dignified way?” asks Norman Morse, 91, of Falmouth.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Morse holds photos from his time of military service during World War II.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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When her mother had a stroke last year, she was terrified and clung to life, though she wanted to be with her husband again. As death neared, she told her daughter, "You know, this isn't bad at all. I don't know why I waited."

Ultimately, Gugliucci said, each person's autonomy must be respected, regardless of their ability to take care of themselves.

"Many of the most dependent people still have the ability to make decisions for themselves," she said. "They still have the right of self-determination."

PROVIDING COMFORT AND RELIEF

For now, Morse's self-determination is firmly intact. He plans to attend a family reunion in September and wants to make sure recent book collections he donated to Greater Portland Landmarks and Osher Map Library are archived properly. After that, he said, he plans to resume his efforts to die.

In the meantime, friends continue to bring him to medical appointments, help him run errands and take him out to dinner. Hospice workers are visiting daily, which Morse said has done a lot to raise his spirits.

"Our goal is always to provide comfort to patients, to relieve any distressing symptoms and to provide support and education to caregivers," said Arlene Wing, chief executive officer of Hospice of Southern Maine. "We neither hasten nor postpone the natural dying process."

Wing wouldn't discuss Morse's case, but she said the 1,000 people in York and Cumberland counties served by her agency each year typically receive medications for symptoms ranging from pain to anxiety to skin rashes, along with a variety of other medical, emotional and spiritual care.

Morse said he still sees starving himself as the most practical way to end his life, especially in a culture that, as a whole, frowns on suicide. He thinks many people oppose euthanasia because they're afraid of death.

"I'm not afraid of death," Morse said. "I've had a wonderful life. I'm going to have a peaceful, painless death. I think everybody is entitled to that. I think that's what God wants. Don't you?"

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com

 

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Additional Photos

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Norman Morse poses for a photograph in May 1944, when he was stationed at Start Point, Devon, England, just weeks before the D-Day invasion at Normandy, France, during World War II. Morse was a second lieutenant in a radar company that followed Gen. George S. Patton's Third Army through France and into Germany.

Family photo

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Norman Morse is shown sailing in Long Island Sound off Southport, Conn., in 1960.

Courtesy Norman Morse

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This picture shows Norman Morse, age 4, sitting on a porch wall beside his older brother, Francis, and mother, Rosamond, in 1924, when the family lived in Pittsfield, Mass. They later moved to Fairfield, Conn., where he lived until retiring to Maine in 1988.

Family photo

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Norman Morse horses around with a cart carrying a friend while visiting Shelter Island, on Long Island, N.Y., in 1950.

Courtesy Norman Morse

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Norman Morse with his first wife, Helen, in 1954, the year they were married.

Courtesy Norman Morse

 


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