Personal story

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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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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Kristen’s story: Will my mother be denied end-of-life choice like my grandmother was?

In this blog post, Edmonton's Kristen Kizlyk describes how a dementia diagnosis ultimately changed the course of her grandmother's life. Her final memories of her grandmother — her "shining light" — are full of pain and suffering.

Kristen hopes her mother, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2001, will be able to avoid this same fate. But because of the ban on advance requests for assisted dying, Kristen's mother — who is at risk of losing capacity — may not be able to access her right to a peaceful medically assisted death. Our existing discriminatory rules, Kristen writes, must change to ensure the rights of people with degenerative conditions are respected.

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Liana Brittain: Surviving the holiday season in the midst of grief

When it comes to grief and bereavement, everyone’s path is different. Similarly, every experience with medical assistance in dying (MAID) is as individual as the person who chooses it. That’s why we have much to learn from the growing number of Canadians who have supported a loved one on a journey with assisted dying.

In this special blog post, Ontario’s Liana Brittain provides invaluable insights into her grief following her husband Paul’s assisted death. She also writes about the unique challenges facing loved ones who are left behind after a MAID death and the pain that is triggered by the holiday season.

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Marj's story: My husband got the death he wanted — but getting there wasn't easy

The option of a medically assisted death can be a source of hope and relief for Canadians who are suffering intolerably as the result of a severe medical condition. But certain elements of our assisted dying rules are harming the very people they're meant to protect.

Take Owen, an Okanagan Valley man who was diagnosed with a rare melanoma cell cancer in August 2016. Owen and his wife, Marj, successfully advocated for his right to medical assistance in dying (MAID) after some resistance from his medical team. 

But going through the rigorous legal and medical process of being assessed and, later, approved for an assisted death didn't bring Owen and his family total peace of mind. In fact, he faced an additional burden once he was found to be eligible: the law's requirement that he have the capacity to consent at the time of his MAID procedure. Owen, whose tumour was spreading quickly to his brain, was at high risk of losing capacity.

He spent his final days of life anxious and afraid that he would lose his right to an assisted death, his wife writes.

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