Personal story

Please Come, Walk with Me

Dr. Ron Posno, age 80, is a tireless advocate for the right to end-of-life choice. In this moving piece, he shares his experience living with dementia and his personal perspective on Canada’s medical assistance in dying (MAID) legislation.

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Siobhan’s story: Supporting my husband’s journey through a medically assisted death

How do you say goodbye to a life partner of 25 years? In this post, Siobhan of Calgary, AB shares her experience supporting her husband Scott through his end-of-life journey and choice to access an assisted death. Read on for Siobhan’s powerful reflections on her family’s story, including lessons she learned and what she thinks others should know about choosing medical assistance in dying (MAID).

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Richard’s story: 52 independent witness requests in 52 weeks

Under the federal law, a sick and suffering individual looking to have an assisted death must have their written assisted dying request signed by two independent witnesses. These witnesses must not be involved in the applicant's care and cannot stand to materially benefit from the person's death.

For many people, finding two suitable witnesses can be tremendously difficult, which is why Dying With Dignity Canada (DWDC) launched its independent witness program in late 2016. Since then, our trained volunteers have served as witnesses in nearly 1,500 cases nationwide.

One witness is Mississauga, Ontario’s Richard Dowsett, who first began witnessing in June 2018. In his quest to help people access their wish of an assisted death, Richard witnessed for one person each week for an entire year.

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Ernest’s story: I live in constant excruciating pain. But I don’t qualify for an assisted death.

Ernest Frederiksen, a man living in Alberta, has fibromyalgia. The excruciating pain he suffers daily has, in his own words, turned him into a shadow of his former self. Despite his suffering, however, Ernest has been denied medical assistance in dying because he does not meet certain requirements under Canada’s assisted dying law. This is his story.

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Tammy’s story: How I’m creating space in my Vietnamese family to talk about death, dying, and end of life

Advance care planning involves having difficult discussions that require individuals to navigate often complex aspects of culture and family relationships. In this special Dying With Dignity Canada blog post, supporter and volunteer Tammy Pham talks about how she’s opening up space for conversations about death and dying within her Vietnamese-Canadian family, where such topics are often considered taboo and avoided. She also provides insights and tips on how people can overcome cultural barriers to initiate and foster these important discussions.

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Jenny’s story: Loving my mother and learning how to navigate the choice of an assisted death

Watching a family member access medical assistance in dying (MAID) can be a complicated emotional experience, one that Nova Scotia’s Jenny Hasselman knows all too well. Hasselman supported her mother — her favourite person in the world — on a journey with assisted dying after her mother’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Now, she is sharing her story as part of her healing process with the hope that her words will normalize the procedure and shine a light on a flawed requirement in the law.

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Lizzie’s story: “Finally, I have some control over what is happening to me.”

Jeanie Gagnon’s Aunt Lizzie lived a long and full life before intolerable suffering led her to make the decision to access medical assistance in dying. In unspeakable pain and robbed of the ability to do the activities she loved most, Lizzie was unwavering in her choice. In this special Dying With Dignity Canada blog post, Jeanie — who has asked that her real name not be used to protect her privacy — shares her aunt’s experience with choosing and preparing for a medically assisted death.

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Megan’s story: My mother’s fight to have an assisted death in her own home

Dr. Devorah Greenberg was a lifelong social justice advocate. Ordinarily, the Simon Fraser University professor campaigned for the rights of others whose freedom or well-being was at risk. But her final campaign for social justice saw her fight for her own rights — in particular, her right to access medical assistance in dying in the long-term care facility which she had come to call home. In a moving new testimonial for Dying With Dignity Canada’s blog, Dr. Greenberg’s daughter, Megan, describes what it was like to support her mother in her quest to end her life how, when, and where she wanted.

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Barrie's story: How a requirement in Canada's assisted dying law prevented my wife from accessing her choice

In this blog post, Barrie Radcliffe of Barrie, Ont. candidly shares how the late-stage consent requirement in Canada's assisted dying law had tragic, heartbreaking consequences for his wife, Lynne.

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Liana Brittain: How Canada’s flawed assisted dying law led my husband to end his life earlier than he wanted

All Paul Couvrette wanted was more time. He had finally met and married the love of his life, and they had retired to their dream home by the sea on Prince Edward Island. But Paul's lifelong retirement dream was cut tragically short when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer not long after their move.

Choosing to die with dignity on his own terms, Paul underwent the rigorous screening and approval process for medical assistance in dying. He was found to be eligible for the procedure, but a flaw in Canada's assisted dying law forced Paul to die earlier than he wanted.

In this blog, his widow, Liana Brittain, reflects on the late-stage consent requirement in the law and the cruel choice it forced Paul to make.

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