There is Life in Being Deaf-Blind

In another nation, deaf-blind twins chose to die. I'm here to tell you that there is life in being deaf-blind.

The deaf-blind community is buzzing with the tragic news of Belgium twins who committed legal assisted suicide. Reactions range from sorrow to horror and, for some, perceived understanding.

The general public is also talking about this incident. They tend to be sympathetic. Many claim they would have done the same thing. Some even say it's a beautiful story. The twins knew there was no hope left for living and chose to leave this world together.

Marc and Eddy Verbessem were 45 year old identical twin brothers. They were born deaf and used "home signs" to communicate with each and close family members. As their vision began to decline, the twins saw no future in a life without sight and the ability to communicate. It is said they may have suffered other physical disabilities and pain. Specific details have not been released.

What we do know is that the brothers embarked on a two year court battle to be granted the right to euthanasia. Despite the fact that they did not have a terminal illness, their wish was carried out when a doctor administered a lethal injection to Marc and Eddy.

It is a sad, emotional story... And it is wrong! There is nothing lovely or beautiful about what occurred. The brothers committed suicide while people nodded and said, "I don't blame them at all."

Since when is deaf-blindness a death sentence? Who says there's no quality of life as a deaf-blind person? How can anyone possibly claim such lives are worth destroying?

I am deaf-blind, and I have other physical problems. I've gone through the worst hell imaginable, as a mind trapped in a useless body. Despite the pain, suffering and overwhelming despair, I crawled my way out and found the path toward life.

No one can say if the twins had a support network. I can tell you that I did not. I lived in a state of abuse and constant fear. My family was far away. The system decided I was too disabled to be helped. But I was not about to give up and die.

I found life in being a mother, a student, a writer, a volunteer, a leader and survivor. I choose life with every step I take, every blog I write and every activity I do. I choose life in learning braille, tactile sign language and how to see with my hands. I choose life through the love of my family and the support of my friends. I choose life each time I smile, or laugh. I found life inside of me, in my beating heart, willful spirit and stubborn determination.

There is life in being deaf-blind. If you can't find it, just look at me. I exist in a state of happiness and fulfillment despite, or maybe because of, my disabilities.

Look beyond the disability. Wipe away your own sadness. Open your eyes to a different sort of living. It's not about what we don't have, and what we can't do. It's about who we are, and what we do.

Marc and Eddy Verbessem were lost in a black hole of depression. They felt such strong fear and loss, they could no longer see a future. They aren't the only ones who have fallen into this trap. Instead of applauding their bravery in dying, society should be finding ways to help people in similar situations.

I stood in their shoes... I live in their shoes. I stared death in the eye, and I said "no." I chose to move on because there is life in being deaf-blind.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Strelock January 26, 2013 at 04:43 AM
What strikes me is that they spent 2 years trying to get euthanized when they could have just done it themselves. The whole assisted suicide thing to me is ludicrous. It's not suicide if some else does it for you. They were too cowardice to live, and too cowardice to take their lives into their own hands.
Brian Spencer January 27, 2013 at 02:13 AM
I agree with you, Angie. Governments should nurture a culture of hope, not suicide. Your life story is very inspiring. Time to work on a biography.
Michelle Sahr February 04, 2013 at 12:31 PM
Great points Angie. Let's celebrate life. I have a special needs daughter who doesn't speak and has many other "issues", but truly she is a JOY in our lives. Continue your writing. You are a blessing.
Cyndie Malik June 12, 2013 at 07:23 PM
Oops hit the wrong button, sorry. Back to Marc and Eddy, why were they allowed to choose this? Where were the Judges, and Dr.s? They should have been given medical/mental health counselling and coping skills to address their failing sight. It is so sad that in this day and age, there are many whom still choose to treat the disabled as though we have no purpose and the old ancient, pre-historic mentality of 'dragging down the pack' still exists even if just in silenced acceptance. Which is the interpretation I get from reading their story is that the Courts in their country support that concept. I have been told in many ways by a lot of people this. Some quite vocally have told me that I do not know 'my place' in life as either a woman nor as a handicapped person. We are living, breathing
Cyndie Malik June 12, 2013 at 07:26 PM
Human beings and should be encouraged as such. Angie, reading your story here is very inspiring. Keep up the good work. G-d Bless you for all you have been through.


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