A lot has happened to our family over the past few years, the experience has convinced us more than ever of the very urgent need to change the law.
I remember returning from my honeymoon in 2010, with a sharp shock back to reality when Dad told me he had been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.
He was soon unable to walk and heavily dependent on a ventilator for his breathing. Despite this he remained upbeat and determined to enjoy life: he met up with his friends to play bridge once a week right up to the very end.
As Dad saw it, he only had three options available to him at the end of life:
- To accept his fate of a potentially unpleasant death.
- To go to Switzerland to be assisted to end his life.
- To take his own life.
He wanted to avoid option one at all costs, and soon after his diagnosis option two was no longer available to him, as he was not well enough to travel such a long distance. At first it was too early for him to go, but, before he knew it, it was already too late.
In his eyes option three was the only viable option available to him, and indeed Dad had decided, if he needed to, he would end his own life. However, he knew this option could, potentially, leave him in a worse situation if it didn’t work.
Dad so desperately wanted there to be a fourth option, to receive medical help to die at home in this country.
But there is no fourth option for people like Dad, that’s why he tirelessly campaigned in the last months of his life to change the law. He appeared in The Guardian, on The One Show and Sky News among other things. He wanted you and I to have the choice that he was denied by a cruel law.
In the end Dad was one of the lucky ones – he was able to have a peaceful death. By refusing ventilation, Dad found his way to die well. I’m grateful for that, but it could so easily have been a very different story.
All he wanted was the choice.
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