Thinking About ‘Completed Life’ Euthanasia in the Netherlands from the Generative Perspective: A Reflexive Exploration




completed life euthanasia, generativity, loss of meaning, burden, the Netherlands


In this reflective essay, we explore the concept of generativity and propose it as a more positive interpretation of the experience of ‘completed life’ and its bearing on the wish to die. In 2010, more than 100,000 people in the Netherlands signed a petition requesting an extension of the existing euthanasia legislation. They asked the government to grant euthanasia to older persons who feel tired of life and who regard their lives as complete, in the absence of physical or psychic sickness. Debates about ‘completed life’ euthanasia have continued since then, but the various factions in these debates have been unable to reach consensus or conclusion. In this paper, we analyse the concept of generativity and use this to interpret statements by supporters of ‘completed life’ euthanasia. Next, we disentangle common idioms that people use when they grow older and feel that death is approaching yet still out of reach. The aim of this article is to invite readers to reflect on the wish for ‘completed life’ euthanasia as a meaningful end-of-life reaction.

Author Biography

Sjaak van der Geest, Cultural Anthropology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Emeritus Professor Medical Amsterdam


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