Advance requests: Jennifer’s story
Personal Stories | August 20, 2021 | Dying With Dignity Canada
Through a series of blog posts we are examining each issue of the Parliamentary Review of MAID to inform and motivate Canadians to advocate for expanding the law. DWDC supporter Jennifer shares her story about the importance of legalizing advance requests after the experience of watching her Dad suffer from dementia.
Advance requests for MAID are essential for anyone who want assurance that their lives will end peacefully on their terms, with compassion and dignity.
Like many, my story relates to the cruel life with, and death from dementia.
While empathetic to those with loved ones suffering with dementia, I was unprepared for the brutal reality caring for my hero-like dad. Witnessing his exhaustive decline in long-term care, this strong yet gentle man went from proud and happy to frightened, angry and aggressive. His constant desperate pleas to ‘make his nightmare end’ were agonizing, pleading to find a way to end his suffering. His sunset years were shrouded in misery.
My mother and best friend now has dementia. History is about to repeat as her parents, siblings, and the love of her life suffered its harshness. An independent / intelligent woman, she is keenly aware and afraid of what potentially lies ahead. We talk often about living life to its fullest now, and assuring her that she will always be well cared for, but she isn’t naïve. She is encouraged by the availability for MAID, and how finally for some, death can be a dignified means to mark the passage of a fulfilled life. What she doesn’t appreciate or agree with is, why the same opportunity won’t likely be available to her as her cognitive health declines.
Establishing an advance request is an urgent necessity to allow her, and those like her, to be assured that she will pass on when she is ready to – as she chooses.
Personally, as an advocate for MAID, the painful experiences with loved ones has intensified my view that Advance Requests must be prioritized. I have been clear with my family as I lend my voice to advocate for those who wish and deserve a medically assisted death. My family is aware that, should dementia strike – as it likely will, I do not want to be surrendered into a long-term care institution, but worse – they appreciate that I cannot bear the thought of being a dependent burden on their lives. Both are abhorrent options for me.
Without an established and respected advance request, what I want will be irrelevant. I also realize that the only feasible alternative to an acceptable death may be suicide – premature in advance of a diminishing capacity making it impossible for MAID.
Learn more about the Parliamentary Review and advance requests here.