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Poll-ish Humor
 
Please choose one answer for each of the following questions.

A female med student is making her rounds. She observes a dying elderly women, riven by dementia, who keeps calling out, "Sylvia, please forgive me." A nurse explains that Sylvia is the woman's daughter, but that this patient has never had visitors. The medical student whispers into the woman's ear: "Mom, it's okay, I forgive you." The woman quiets down and dies shortly afterward.


Was this the right thing to do?

 
 

A child, age eight, is dying and fearful. She wants to know what is going to happen to her. Her father absolutely does not believe in an afterlife. Still, he tells her that because she has been a wonderful little girl, she is going to heaven, where she will be happy and taken care of and where she will see her mom and dad and brother again some day, and live with them forever.


Was this the right thing to do?

 
 

A man and his wife are in a car accident. The wife dies. The man regains consciousness, but it is clear he only has a very short time to live. When the doctor tells him his condition, the man asks if his wife survived. The doctor says his wife will be fine. The man dies relieved.


Did the doctor do the right thing?

 
 

A close male friend of yours -- married with a teenaged child -- tells you in confidence that he is regularly having sexual relations with a goat. He has tried therapy for this, but it didn't work, and he says he is happy, that it isn't hurting his marriage, and that he never intends his wife to find out. As it happens, the goat's name is Sylvia, though that is not pertinent to this question. You are appalled, and feel it is necessary to tell the man's wife, and do. Significant pain results.


Did you do the right thing?

 
 

You are despondent. You have a family with teenaged children. You have tried therapy, you have tried drugs, nothing has worked. Every day is misery for you, and you see no hope of this ever changing. Taking pains to make sure you do it in a way where no one you know is forced to see the result, you take your own life.


Did you have a right to do this?

 
This is a non-scientific, yet highly chatological, survey of Gene Weingarten's readers. If you take exception to the content herein, please contact weingarten@washpost.com immediately.