In the article by Robert Cribb about Assisted Dying, he quotes criminologist Ogden who suggests that those who companion those who die by suicide or planned death, do not need to be trained professionals and that they do not need training.
Ogden states, “We don’t see a need for training because the person doesn’t need to know how life is ended because they aren’t going to be involved. The core requirement is to sit on your hands. It would be a violation of the law to intervene. If someone is struggling to end their life and you step in and finish the job, that’s murder.”
I disagree! Even IF the person is ONLY to be a COMPANION or a WITNESS to the planned death, they deserve to be prepared for this experience with education. Just as hospice organizations prepare volunteers to sit with the dying, organizations supporting planned deaths should prepare their volunteers and staff with adequate education and support.
If the core requirement is simply to sit on your hands, as Ogden suggests, then why be there at all? The role of companion is to “be with”. “Being with” usually requires more education and skill than “doing for”.
And if, the dying person does not complete suicide, either because the tools chosen were not effective, or because s/he changes their mind or because s/he struggles in the experience of dying…. all the more important to prepare the companion to respond in the moment as well as to address their own feelings in the days and years to come.
If/when Assisted Dying is legalized, new careers will emerge. It will be important that education is developed that ensures best care for the dying as well as supports health and healing for those who assist in the process.