Death with dignity

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Posted by Charles


When Meg Holmes was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009 her husband Andrew started a blog so that he could update friends about her condition.

Meg died on 1 October. The following post describes her death.

My wife Meg died on the morning of Saturday October 1st in the loving company of her brother, sister, son, daughter and husband.

Suffering from a disease that robs one of intellect and dignity, she had the option, as a Washington resident, to choose the time of her death. She used the provisions of Washington’s “Death with Dignity” Act to hasten her death, while she was still able to converse with and understand her family members. (Oregon has long had a very similar “Death with Dignity” act, Vermont and Massachusetts are considering one).

Her family gathered on Friday and spent the day with her. She was much more alert and animated than of late and visited with each of us. Despite knowing that her death was the next day, we all slept well that night (I slept much better than for many weeks), showing us that we were prepared for her passing.

Social workers (she met privately with one from hospice and one from Swedish Hospital to affirm her decision) and the volunteer from Compassion and Choices Washington all remarked on her readiness (and that she had not been ready the previous week).

The volunteer from “Compassion and Choices Washington” showed immense skill and empathy in helping Meg and in caring for us. 

Meg died peacefully and quickly, with no signs of discomfort. It was a remarkable end to a long struggle, and released Meg from what we all knew could be a long, distressing, undignified and inevitable end. Our preparations, the company of relatives, Meg’s peaceful passing and the knowledge of her command of the situation all served to make her passing much easier for us all. 

Find Andrew’s blog here.

Grateful thanks to the excellent Death With Dignity blog for alerting me to this. Find it here.

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