Blog

Colette’s story: My mother fought for her right to assisted dying. This is her legacy.

Not long after Canada passed its assisted dying law in June 2016, British Columbia's Mary John submitted her request and was approved. But her joy over being able to die on her own terms quickly turned to additional pain and frustration when hospice staff repeatedly obstructed her access, needlessly prolonging her life and her suffering.

After weeks of this active interference, Mary finally got her wish: She became one of the first British Columbians to access assisted dying — if not, the first. Throughout her weeks-long ordeal, she and her family never once stopped advocating for her right to a peaceful death. 

In this powerful blog post, Mary’s daughter, Colette, and her boyfriend, Dean, share how Mary's fight for choice and compassion was able to pave the way for patients and families in her community and province.

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I supported my husband on his assisted dying journey. This is what I learned.

In early November, Jana Buhlmann wrote a powerful entry for the DWDC blog about her husband, Chris, who had a medically assisted death in September 2017. In her follow-up post, Jana reflects on the resistance Chris faced from people in his life who opposed his end-of-life choice — and the lessons she learned about herself along the journey.

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Kate's story: My dad chose a medically assisted death. This is my celebration of his life and choice.

In late June, Mark Alexander died peacefully at his home, surrounded by his close family and friends. The British Columbia man was an avid outdoorsman, globe-trotter, and beer-league hockey player who loved all kinds of physical activity, but loved his family above all else. Despite his zest for life, Mark was always realistic about his prostate cancer diagnosis. After every treatment failed, he made the decision to access medical assistance in dying, and he did so with unwavering conviction. At his Celebration of Life reception, his daughter, Kate, presented a speech about his end-of-life choice. She has graciously allowed us to share her beautiful words on our blog.

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Maggie’s story: Will I be able to make the end-of-life choice I want?

Maggie Bristow can no longer bear to breathe because every breath sets her body afire with pain. The Ottawa woman has fibromyalgia and spinal stenosis, along with a host of other medical conditions, and wants nothing more than to be able to access medical assistance in dying. Physically unable to write her own story, Maggie spoke with Dying With Dignity Canada volunteer Liana Brittain, who helped Maggie put her excruciating pain into words.

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Kathy’s story: My second wife’s assisted death brought peace and joy. But my first wife’s death still haunts me.

Kathy watched Kim, her wife of 25 years, die a "soul-destroying" and traumatic death in 2014 — just two years before Canada passed its assisted dying law.

A few years later, Kathy watched as her second wife, Lynne, was diagnosed with a terminal disease, but this time, assisted dying was newly legal and available in Canada. The contrast between Kim's death and Lynne's was stark, Kathy writes.

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Jana's story: My husband’s assisted death spared him the suffering he feared most

When Jana Buhlmann's husband, Chris, celebrated his 41st birthday, it was a bittersweet occasion because they both knew it would be his last. The very next day, Chris was scheduled to have his medically assisted death. He struggled with the decision, but he knew his grim prognosis and the imminent intolerable suffering on the road ahead. Assisted dying offered him another, more compassionate path instead, Jana writes.

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How one family’s assisted dying story effected real change in their community

In August, Debra Westbrook and her family spoke out in their local newspaper and on our blog about the obstruction their father faced in his months-long struggle to access assisted dying at their local hospital. Less than two months later, that same hospital made a major change to prevent the same thing from happening again. In this special update, Debra writes about how she and her family were able to inspire change in their community — and makes a call for others to do the same.

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Denise's story: My husband's medically assisted death was a compassionate gift

A few months after Denise's husband, Ed, was diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis, he began to feel "trapped" in his body. Ed, who had lost the ability to move or do the things he loved, was so relieved to discover that he qualified for a medically assisted death. In this blog post, Denise tells the story of her husband's devastating disease and the days and weeks leading up to the peaceful death he so desired.

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Video: What it's like to provide assisted dying for the first time

Many recent documentaries and magazine articles have delved into what it’s like to support a family member who's accessed their right to assisted dying.

But fewer have explored what it’s like for the handful of doctors and nurse practitioners in Canada who are involved in providing medical assistance in dying (MAID). Their insights provide another side to the story, and they are essential to our understanding of how the right to assisted dying is changing the way Canadians experience the dying process.

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Liana Brittain: How assisted dying has changed the way Canadians experience death

The passage of Canada's medical assistance in dying law has transformed the way some Canadians experience the dying process. In her latest blog post, Liana Brittain reflects on this change and reminisces about how she and her husband, Paul, planned for his assisted death. 

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