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I am ready to die?
Mar 17, 1999

Father,

I am a 29yo woman. I hold a MA in catholic theology and know deeply that God loves me. I was diagnosed one year ago and although my story is very complicated I always come back to the fact that I need to deal with my dying. I would not mind if the progression were faster only because I do not fear suffering as much as I fear the reprocussions of committing suicide. I am not depressed nor hopeless. I have people that love me and people I deeply love.

Some say it is a terminal illness and therefore gives allowance to suicide as an option. I cannot wrestle with the fact that it is still taking my own life, yet was that not what I did when I contracted HIV? Please help me to be okay with this. I am not sure I am asking whether to be okay with death or suicide? Is there any allowance for suicide?

Response from Father DeMartini

Dear friend,

Thank you for your very honest and heartfelt message. While I cannot pretend to know what it is like to be young, living with HIV and feeling surrounded by fear and uncertainty. AT the same time I hope and pray that you can find reason for and support for living despite the future unknowns. I hear you blaming yourself and suggesting that you chose suffering and death. Instead I invite you to consider those who know, love and support you, despite the virus, and consider choosing life and future with them. You say that "some say AIDS is a terminal illness"--I would invite you to not let the words terminal or life-threatening rob you or your right to live out all your days with courage, optimism and faith. Ask God to help you understand the Scriptural invitation to choose life. I will keep you in prayer and would be happy to even speak with you personally on e-mail or phone. I would like to send you a copy of a wonderful talk given by the late theologian Henri Nouwen called "Befriending Death" which was delivered to people living with HIV/AIDS and their careproviders at the National Catholic HIV/AIDS Ministry Conference in 1995. I can be reached at ncan@sonic.net or at 707-874-3031. May God's peace embrace you. Fr. Rod



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