My family and I knew for months that my dad was considering a MAiD death, but that didn’t make it any easier when we found out a week in advance that he had chosen a date.
I still remember the day he first mentioned his plan and how it felt to me as though all the air had been sucked out of the room. Over the course of several months, my dad brought the subject up with my siblings and me a few times, which I interpreted as his checking whether he really did have our support. And he did, completely. I wasn’t ready to think about losing my dad, but I wasn’t about to challenge his right to make this decision either.
My dad had a lung disease and part of his reason for considering MAiD was that people with that illness essentially choke to death, and naturally he wanted to avoid dying that way. As well, his illness was causing his overall health to deteriorate quickly and it made breathing and even talking very difficult. Even so—despite him having raised the topic a few times and knowing he was increasingly unwell—I assumed the end was further away.
I should have clued in at one point that he was getting closer to being ready. On Mother’s Day, he sent me an email (because that was how my dad communicated about difficult things) telling me how proud he was of my kids and of me. “I’m proud of all you’ve done,” he finished, before signing it with the usual, “Love Dad, XXOO.” I week or so later when my brother called to tell me Dad had chosen a date to go ahead with the procedure, it all clicked into place – that message, some of the other things he had said to me around that time, and a health issue he had decided not to have addressed. He was getting ready to sign off.
In the few weeks before he died on May 27, 2021, my dad’s health continued to decline. In the time we spent with him in that last week once we knew he had chosen a date, it was clear to me that he was ready to go. I wasn’t ready for him to go, but I respected his choice and am incredibly grateful that I was able to support him through the process.
I do wish my family and I had been able to find better support for ourselves during that time. I’m thankful that my family and I were there for each other, but I really could have used someone to talk to who had been through it and could let me know what to expect. Now that I’m on the other side, I hope to be that for others.