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The Sea Inside: a movie about assisted suicide

The Sea Inside is a Spanish movie that tells the true story of Ramon Sampedro. Ramon is a quadriplegic after breaking his neck in a diving accident in his early twenties. Confined to his bed in his room, he’s cared for by his family. With a group of activists from the Right-to-Die-with-Dignity organization, he fights for legal assisted suicide in Spain.

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The Sea InsideAt the end of The Sea Inside, my husband asked me what I thought of the movie. I said, “He’s selfish.”

That realization had hit me with a jolt in the last few minutes. Ramon was so focused on himself and what he wanted that he couldn’t see how his family loved him and wanted him with them—even if they had to do everything for him. It seemed to me that he was confined to his bed not by his injury, but by his attitude.

Ramon could have done more than he did, but he wallowed in self-pity instead.

More about The Sea Inside

The description of The Sea Inside says, “The story also explores Ramon’s relationships with two women and his ability to inspire them through his gift of love.” One woman is a struggling single mom, the other a successful lawyer, but both are changed by their encounters with Ramon.

He is the first man to show respect to the single mom. She falls in love with him, cooking for him and helping his sister-in-law with his care. Instead of appreciating her love and friendship, Ramon twists it and, in the end, abuses her as the other men in her life had. He demands that if she loves him, she will help him kill himself.

The lawyer comes to help him with his fight for assisted suicide. She has ulterior motives. She suffers from a degenerative disease, and wants the right to kill herself before the disease gets too bad. Drawn together by their illnesses, she and Ramon fall in love. She turns him once again to his writing, inspiring him to finish his book.

However, in one of the most beautiful scenes in the movie (unfortunately, in the deleted scenes list), she admits to her husband her desire to kill herself. He has just bought a huge, beautiful beach house for her, and tells her that all he wants is her by his side. Unlike Ramon, she recognizes his love and her selfishness.

Rather than portraying disability in a way that would open up dialogue about why disabled people feel that way, and addressing the greater issue of how society views disability, the film is a testament as to why non-disabled people should pity the disabled community, especially those who are as disabled as Ramón Sampedro, and support his decision to end his life, even if his disability was not fatal, which it was not. ~ Dominick Evans, “Hollywood Promotes the Idea that It Is Better to Be Dead than Disabled

My Thoughts on Assisted Suicide

The Sea Inside made me think of my great aunt. She ended up in the hospital with a broken hip after falling in her apartment. My mom and I and Sunshine flew out to visit her, knowing she was in her late eighties and we might not have another chance to see her. Visiting her in the hospital was not easy.

She was a shadow under the sheets, her grey hair a frizzy halo around her head. She stared at the ceiling, for it hurt her to move too much. We either leaned in front of her or waited for her to turn her head carefully towards us. Conversation lagged. I tried to think of what might have happened recently that I wouldn’t have told her about in a letter. Yet it seemed trivial. What did it matter, the little things I did this week, when she lay there, so sick? She asked us a few questions, but she also expressed a wish that we shouldn’t have come.

She had never married because she lived with her parents and cared for them. Even in the hospital, she was still too much of a caretaker, unwilling to have anyone take care of her, unwilling to be the one sick. Until her fall, she’d had good health. She was living on her own, getting around with her walker. Last time we had seen her, she was chipper and talkative.

During our visit, she asked us several times “when Jesus would take her home.” She didn’t like us to see her in pain. I wonder if she would have chosen assisted suicide, if it had been available to her. And I know I wouldn’t have wanted her to. We only had a short goodbye with her, but at least we had that. I wish she could have ignored how bad she thought she looked, her own weakness and injury, and been happy to see us.

I wish we could have, like the husband in The Sea Inside, taken her away to a beach house to spend those last days and hours together, enjoying the time that we had because we knew it was short, rather than being confined to hospital visiting hours and regulations about babies. (Sunshine wasn’t allowed on my aunt’s floor because of a viral infection, so Mom and I had to take turns watching her and going up to see my aunt.)

Ramon’s family, from his sister-in-law who dressed him and bathed him and fed him to his brother who worked to support him to his nephew who had to type the book and create Ramon’s inventions, were happy to do all that for him. They loved him. And I would have been happy to do the same for my aunt, if she would have let me.

Assisted suicide seems to me another example of the selfishness of our society, of the me-first attitude and unwillingness to suffer that is prevalent. There are many stories of quadriplegics who, unlike Ramon, didn’t let their injury keep them in bed, but did great things despite their disability. Nick Vujicic is a great example of what one man can do without arms or legs! None of us knows what the future may hold, what great inventions or great books or great friendships may come to us.

Ramon’s story is sad, not because of his injury, but because of his inability to see how he impacted those around him.

For more about the assisted suicide…

Chasing Lilacs is another story about how a suicide affects family members, and why those who face mental illness, disabilities, or chronic pain need our support and love.

If someone wishes to end their life because it is difficult due to bullying, disability, illness or pain, then we should seek to make their life more livable, rather than help them die.

For more about assisted suicide and why people like Ramon and my aunt deserve better than that, please explore the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition’s website.

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