Personal story

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 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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Opinion: Why I believe advance requests for assisted dying must be allowed

In 2017, Calgary’s Carol Abbott-Wolfson watched her husband, Gerald, and her Aunt Marion suffer horrific deaths. Neither were able to exercise their right to an assisted death because of the law’s requirement that a person be competent at the time of the procedure. If the law allowed advance requests for assisted dying, Carol writes, their heartbreaking experiences at end of life may have been prevented.

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Tracy’s story: My mother’s choice of an assisted death provided a lesson in bravery

In this powerful testimonial, Ontario's Tracy Kelly writes about her beloved and brave mother's choice of a medically assisted death after a terminal cancer diagnosis.

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Linda Crabtree: Why we are writing Dying With Dignity Canada into our wills

Writer and advocate Linda Crabtree, C.M., O.Ont., candidly shares how her mother's intolerable suffering with dementia led her to join Dying With Dignity Canada — and why she's making the commitment to protecting Canadians' end-of-life rights for years to come.

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A powerful excerpt from Liana Brittain's new book

As an active Dying With Dignity Canada volunteer, regular contributor to our blog, and chair of our First Person Witness Council, Liana Brittain has moved people across the world with her powerful storytelling and voice. She has gone above and beyond to keep her final promise to her husband, Paul, who had an assisted death in 2017 and asked her to share the story of his choice.

Liana continues to honour Paul’s request by sharing the story of their love, his terminal cancer diagnosis, and finally, his journey with assisted dying in her new book, MAiD Musings: A Widow’s Reflections. She has generously shared an excerpt from her book, which consists of short vignettes from her life with Paul and her original poetry, on our blog. Read the emotional excerpt below!

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Bill's family story: How we supported our strong, courageous mother in her choice of an assisted death

In this moving and emotional testimonial, British Columbia’s Bill Currie shares what it was like to support his mother, Minnie, on her journey with assisted dying.

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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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