Friday, 10 August 2012

Dignity in dying

Our dear Peter
In July I travelled to be with my brother Peter in Switzerland..Zurich..so that he could end his days together with me, his wife and her sister at a special place called Dignitas. He was suffering from the disease PSP innocent sounding initials that stand for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. It is really up there with the very worst of the degenerative diseases that man can suffer from and involves great indignities...and with him it was fast.
Peter could not countenance such a miserable end to his life and therefore chose to have a controlled and dignified ending.
It was very peaceful and his courage and calm were inspirational..I cannot begin to describe how focused and certain he was that this was the right choice for him.
In the week leading up to the fateful day we had a lot of laughter and story telling. It was profoundly surreal and we simply shared a strong desire to make sure nothing stopped him in his intent.
We walked with Pete in his wheelchair, the many paths along the lake, we drank cool beers and delicious wines..we had fun and laughed and wept.
The last day was as good as ever it could have been..really
At the clinic the two people who took care of us were an older man and woman..very lovely, kind and caring people who were nothing but sensitive primarily to Peter. They new all our names and our relationship to each other. They made emotional and physical space for us..there was no sense of rush. Peter set the pace.
He was surrounded by love and held in our arms...what more could any of us wish for.
We are now home...shattered but so glad he is in peace.
Now I am determined to do as much as I can to shine light on this as an ethical and viable option for people suffering from any of these dreadful complaints that make life unendurable. We must change the law so that sick people do not need to travel to foreign and it has to be said expensive lands, in order to die quietly and with dignity at a time of their choosing. It cost a lot of money it's a fact. That is another issue that should be addressed when we tackle the legalities and logistics of setting up something in the UK.
There was no question of anyone doing this to or for him..Dignitas provided a safe professional place with experienced professionals on hand to help him reach the conclusion he desired so strongly.

This was not euthanasia..no one put a stop to his life which is another thing entirely. This assisted dying..for that is what it is..allows a person to end their own life within a safe framework. Not an easy option by any means but when the alternative is too horrific for an individual to countenance then it must become a legal way out.