Chantal

My Mom Monique’s  MAiD Journey

My mom recently passed away with the help of MAiD (medical assistance in dying) in Abbotsford, B.C. and I wanted to share her story in the hopes that it might help others in a similar situation who need support or clarity about the MAiD process and what happens from beginning to end.

I have been living near Barcelona Spain for the past 25 years so I had been coming to Canada every summer to visit Mom for the holidays for the past 20 years or so.

My Mom was in relatively good health until the age of 85 when she decided to move into a Chartwell retirement facility in Mission, B.C. to be close to my brother who lives in Abbotsford, B.C.

This went well for the first few years until she fell one day and broke her hip. Then she had several strokes and wound up in a wheelchair with slightly slurred speech and a limited ability to move the left side of her body. She had also previously injured her other hip and right shoulder so she had limited mobility on the right side of her body as well. Due to her condition she was moved into various assisted living facilities in Abbotsford over the next few years and throughout the pandemic until my brother and I moved her into Bevan Village last year.

She hadn’t been happy at the previous facilities so we hoped that the move to Bevan would make her happy.  Sadly, that wasn’t the case and Mom grew more and more unhappy about her limited quality of life.

Mom and I would sometimes talk over the phone about how we should have the right to choose to own end her own when she felt it was right time and we both agreed that there should be a system in place which gives a person the choice to end their own life. Little did I know that this was actually possible through MAiD which I later found out about.

During this trip to Canada, after I had been there for one week (first week of August 2022), my Mother boldly announced that she wanted to go before I went back to Spain. Those were her  words..literally. Although we had talked about it hypothetically prior to my trip, my first reaction was disbelief and then sadness when I realised that she really meant it.

I knew that MAiD existed in Canada but I thought it was only available for people with terminal illnesses. As time was a major constraint (my return ticket to Spain was for the 5th of September). I quickly went online to read about the requirements. There seemed to be small glimmer of hope where it mentioned a clause about a serious decline in your state of health without any hope of getting better. I later learned that frailty and old age were admissible when applying for MAiD.

The next day I called the Bevan Village staff to let them know that Mom wanted to apply for MAiD. From there, things moved quite quickly. The first doctor to assess her approved her application (giving her a 7 out of 10 on frailty scale) and the second doctor, who also made sure that she was of sound mind and clear about wanting to end her life, also approved her application. Since I was with my mother for the second doctor’s visit, he suggested scheduling the procedure (which he promised would be painless and quick)to be done in her room at the residence and Mom agreed that it would be done the following Friday at 2pm.

If there is any advantage to knowing when you are going to pass it has to be the fact that you can say good-bye to your friends and loved ones before you go. And this is exactly what Mom did. We had video calls with her family in France and telephone calls to say good-bye to friends in B.C, who she would be leaving behind.

As difficult as that last week was, it was also beautiful to be there for my mom, to have meals with her, play cards, give her foot massages and tell her that I loved her and would miss her but that my brother and I truly understood and respected her decision (we would have made the same decision if we had been in her declining state of health).

And so on the last day of her life we had a lovely family picnic lunch outside under a big old tree, talked and ate, hugged and took pictures.  It was difficult to believe that a few hours later she would be leaving us forever. With  heavy hearts, we took Mom up to her flower filled room and waited for the MAiD staff to arrive. The nurse arrived first and put the IV in first and made sure she was comfortable. When the doctor arrived he asked her once again if she was sure she wanted the procedure and asked her some questions to confirm her state of mind. My mother confirmed that she wanted to go and the doctor said that he needed about 15 minutes to prepare the medication she would be receiving. We talked and caressed Mom and held her hand and told her that we loved her and she told us to enjoy our lives and to make the most of everyday. When the doctor came back into the room we lovingly held her hand and feet as the as he asked her once again if she was ready. Her clear nod and smile was all he needed to go ahead with the procedure which was an injection of 4 substances through an IV tube.  After the fourth injection the doctor and nurse, who were incredibly compassionate and kind, told us that her heart had stopped beating and that she had passed away and that they were very sorry for our loss. The whole process took less than 10 minutes. My mother was finally in peace and free of her the body and of a life that no longer held meaning for her.

I stayed with her body for the next few hours, in her room at the residence, singing some gospel songs she never got to hear me sing. I kissed her and thanked her for everything she had ever done for us and caressed her face for the last time before the cremation services people arrived to take her body to the funeral home.

I want to give deep gratitude to the MAiD team and to the Bevan Village staff for helping Mom end her life with dignity. I know she was relieved to go as she believed she no longer had quality of life worth living for.  I know in my heart that she is in a better place now free of the body that was failing her and making her so unhappy in the last few years of her life. May she rest in the sweetest of peace.

We miss you and love you Mom.

Monique  (2 April 1932 – 2 September 2022)

Your Loving Daughter,
Chantal