Personal story

My husband died too soon because of the ban on advance requests for assisted dying

In this powerfully candid entry for the DWDC blog, British Columbia’s Johanna Clark remembers her husband Neil’s final months following a lung cancer diagnosis in 2017. Neil accessed his wish of a medically assisted death in May 2018, with the heartbreaking knowledge that he could have lived for longer. Neil, worried about losing capacity and knowing that the federal assisted dying law requires final consent at the time of the procedure, chose to end his life early to ensure he could have the assisted death he wanted.

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Marion’s story: Why I want advance requests for assisted dying

In this moving testimonial, British Columbia’s Marion Janssen recounts the end-of-life experiences of her grandparents and parents. After watching three loved ones — her mother, father, and grandmother — suffer with dementia, Marion knows she does not want the same ending for herself. That’s why, she writes, she believes advance requests for assisted dying must be allowed.

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4 challenges I faced after my husband’s assisted death

In September 2016, Nova Scotia’s Douglas Henshaw became one of the first people to receive a medically assisted death in Canada. His wife, Sylvia — a Dying With Dignity Canada volunteer and member of our First Person Witness Council — reflects on four lessons she’s learned in the past three years.

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Barbara’s story: Our love-filled farewell

How do you say goodbye to your partner of 66 years? Barbara of Victoria, B.C. struggled to imagine life without her husband, Joe. However, after his cancer diagnosis, Joe chose to access medical assistance in dying (MAID) to end his pain, and to ensure he maintained the quality of life he wanted for himself and for those he cared about. Ultimately, Joe’s choice to access MAID brought peace to the whole family. Now, Barbara is sharing their story with the hope of informing and empowering others.

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Paul’s story: How my wife was denied her end-of-life choice

In this powerful post for the Dying With Dignity Canada blog, Calgary’s Paul Morck opens up about his wife Barbara’s struggle to access her wish of a medically assisted death.

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MJ’s story: What we didn’t expect in my mom’s journey with assisted dying

MJ remembers her mother, Linda, as a strong woman who was always taking care of others. From her childhood in Quebec City to Montreal, MJ remembers Linda as a fiercely independent woman with a caring heart. Once Linda was diagnosed with lung cancer, however, she struggled through pain and ultimately made the decision to access medical assistance in dying (MAID). In this blog, MJ shares her mother’s story, and what it was like for her and her siblings to say goodbye.

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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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Geraldine’s story: How I supported my husband on a journey with assisted dying

In this moving entry for the DWDC blog, Ontario’s Geraldine F. Neily honours Dale, her husband of nearly 63 years, who accessed his wish of a medically assisted death in October 2018. His end-of-life choice, she writes, was the final chapter in “a life well lived.”

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Justine’s story: Chronic pain has left me in a prison of my own existence

In this powerfully written blog post, Justine from Ontario shares how her daily chronic pain has stripped her of any quality of life. Suffering with pain that feels like “literal torture,” Justine has applied for a medically assisted death, but was formally denied because she does not meet one requirement in the law: her natural death is not reasonably foreseeable.

In an effort to shine a light on the unconstitutionality of Canada’s assisted dying law, Justine shares her important story.

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

Ernest, an Alberta man who has requested that his last name not be used, 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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