Another kind of retirement

MONDAY, 25 JULY 2022

Karl Marx’s second eldest daughter, Jenny Laura Marx, and her husband, Paul Lafargue, committed suicide together in 1911. They spent most of their adult lives doing revolutionary work, including translating Karl Marx’s works into French. When she was 66 and her husband 69, they decided they no longer had anything to give to the cause to which they had devoted their lives.

In a letter, Paul Lafargue wrote, among other things, the following by way of explanation: “Healthy in body and mind, I end my life before pitiless old age which has taken from me my pleasures and joys one after another; and which has been stripping me of my physical and mental powers, can paralyse my energy and break my will, making me a burden to myself and to others. For some years I had promised myself not to live beyond 70; and I fixed the exact year for my departure from life. I prepared the method for the execution of our resolution; it was a hypodermic of cyanide acid.”

It’s an unpleasant subject for sure. Old man or woman thinks they are no longer useful, or can no longer make a contribution, so the end is hastened. Would governments and companies that have to make increasingly high pension pay-outs to people living longer and longer be enthusiastic about such an idea? Who knows.

Still I think: Imagine yourself 70 years old. You are single, or a widow or widower. You have no children or grandchildren. You don’t have much of a pension either, and you no longer feel like working.

Then you hear about a program with a name like “Dignified Last Journey”.

Before you enter the program’s facility for the last mile of your journey, a consultant helps you settle your affairs, sell or give away your last possessions, say goodbye to your remaining friends or acquaintances, and so on.

Then your last few days arrive. You eat tasty but healthy food – you don’t want to experience unpleasant consequences in your last days. Convenience is of utmost importance. You also start getting daily doses of morphine. You sleep well, and longer every day. On Day 7, when you get your final injection, you don’t think anymore. You’re in dreamland.