Even though he is full of life, and surrounded
by the love of his father, brother, sister-in-law, and nephew,
Ramon wants to be able to end his life. He believes that he
is living a life without dignity, and should have the right
to end his life. A female lawyer, who suffers from a degenerative
disease, comes to visit Ramon to prepare a legal case. They
form a unique bond of love and respect. Ramon feels that, because
of her disease, she can truly understand his feeling about the
life and death.
I was continually struck that, for a film about
a man’s right to die, the movie is full of life. Ramon
is embraced by his family. Ramon has many visitors, including
Rosa, a woman who loves him, and argues against his wish to
die. Ramon gives her hope and encouragement in her life. Ramon
writes beautifully, holding a brush in his teeth. He loves to
listen to music. At the same time, Ramon feels a prisoner in
his body, and wishes to die.
television story on Ramon’s case features a comment from
a priest who is severely handicapped himself, confined to a
wheelchair. Even though he has never met Ramon, the priest makes
the incredibly insensitive statement that Ramon’s fight
to end his life is really a cry for love. He must have no love
in his life. The priest comes to visit Ramon, and, after a brief
conversation, is thrown out. Ramon’s sister-in-law also
tells him off for his comment about the lack of love in Ramon’s
life. I don’t know if this incident or character is based
on fact. I wished the priest could have been as sympathetic
as the one in Million Dollar Baby. Unfortunately, he is another
in the long line of cinematic priests who are insensitive idiots.
Pastoral care ministers: note how not to respond in such a situation!
The film follows Ramon’s battle to take
his own life through the courts, which deny him. In the end,
however, Ramon does take his life by drinking cyanide. Ramon
films this scene, so others can witness.
As I said, I thought it so ironic that The Sea
Inside is so full of life, when all Ramon wants to be able to
do is to die. Any response I can make seems insensitive like
the priest in the movie. Never having suffered as Ramon did,
I try to understand the lack of dignity in his total reliance
on others for everything: food, hygiene, turning him and massaging
him. Yet he has so much life to give, and receives so much love
from others, I don’t see his death as a victory for him
or anyone else.
Can I appreciate The Sea Inside, even though
I disagree with its central premise? Yes, of course, and would
recommend it, especially to those living with, caring for, or
ministering to severely disabled persons.
Tom Condon, OP