I have had several opportunities to support various family and friends through their end of life journeys. All were very special and profound experiences but I am so incredibly grateful for having had the chance to support my Aunt Sarah through her decision to choose a medically assisted death in May of 2018. Prior to choosing to pursue a MAiD application, Sarah’s life journey might not be considered unique amongst the many elderly Canadians who live into their 90s. After a series of falls, Sarah begrudgingly entered into long-term care and our feisty, independent aunt slowly became increasingly confined to her bed. After hearing her sad laments that she had not wanted her life to end up in long-term care, I tentatively and with great trepidation mentioned the possible option of looking into MAiD as it had just been legislated six months prior. Although Sarah expressed gratitude for my having initiated this delicate conversation with her (much to my relief), she stated she didn’t feel inclined to pursue it “but was glad to know it might be an option.”
It never came up again until 18 months later when I received a call from Aunt Sarah’s long-term care home that she had asked for a MAiD application. It was truly an amazing journey my family and I were grateful to have experienced while supporting her through what were the final three weeks of her life. We were able to bring her to our home on a beautiful, warm spring day where she was provided MAiD in our garden.
One thing that would have made the journey easier would have been the ability to access emotional support from family or friends with lived experience. As MAiD was under two years old at the time of my aunt’s death, there were no established support networks when I inquired. For that reason, I was very keen to step up as a volunteer with Bridge4you!