On the evening of April 20, 2000, Al Purdy drank a glass of Chilean wine laced with Rohypnol. Murphy’s Law offered one last demonstration of its quirky power: the wine was corked. He sipped it anyway, in the company of his love of almost 60 years. There was no rush, no timetable. The last piece of music he heard was Paul Robeson’s best rendition of “Ol’ Man River”—his favourite singer performing one his favourite songs. [more inside]
Dr. Peter Rasmussen: retired oncologist, hospice physician and advocate for Oregon's Death with Dignity law, was given a terminal brain cancer diagnosis in Spring 2014. The Oregon Statesman Journal followed Dr. Rasmussen's end-of-life journey in articles, photos and videos, as he grappled with the same issues he once fought for on behalf of his own patients. Harper's Magazine: When I Die. [more inside]
The Last Day of Her Life. When Cornell psychology professor Sandy Bem found out she had Alzheimer’s, she resolved that before the disease stole her mind, she would kill herself. The question was, when? [more inside]
"Each of us is born uniquely and dies uniquely. I think of dying as a final adventure with a predictably abrupt end. I know when it's time to leave and I do not find it scary." Gillian Bennett, whose last words are captured in her eloquent farewell website, has died. (Trigger warning for suicide.) [more inside]
Kim's Choice: How One Family Confronts a Genetic Time Bomb. A moving article from the Globe and Mail about Kim Teske's decision to end her life, and a portrait of a family as they gather one last time to say goodbye. "[Kim] has Huntington’s, an incurable genetic disease that combines aspects of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia. At 52, she is still living on her own, but fears that, if she doesn’t act now, she will end her days in an institution. “I love life and I love me, but I don’t want to live like that..... And I have a plan.” Two of Kim's siblings also share the genes for Huntingdon's; of her four nieces and nephews, one has tested positive, one negative, and the status of the other two is not yet known.
What happened next is that Pratchett collapsed. “I had to kneel on the back seat of the taxi and give him CPR,” Rob says. “It was fingers down throat stuff. He nearly died.” -- Extracts from an interview by Laurie Penny of Terry Pratchett reveal he nearly died and is planning to leave the Discworld in the hands of his daughter, Rhianna Pratchett. [more inside]
Why I helped my wife kill herself. When Michael Graham's wife Elizabeth was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, she made up her mind to die before she became completely immobile. Michael knew he would have to help her - even though it could land him in jail. (note: unless you're unlucky, this is quite likely the saddest story you'll read today)
Does the right to life trump the right to die? In an increasingly hysterical debate surrounding Terry Schiavo, Garret Keizer provides a thought-provoking analysis of who should decide when and how a person dies: "The alarms raised in America’s ongoing right-to-die debate have always been characterized by a curious selectivity. You will notice, for example, how the fear of playing God operates exclusively on one side of the medical playground. Thus to help a patient end his or her life “prematurely” is playing God, while extending it in ways and under conditions that no God lacking horns and a cloven hoof could ever have intended is the mandate of “our Judeo-Christian heritage” and the Hippocratic oath."
Assisted Suicide law in Oregon stuck down by feds. Voters have approved assisted suicide twice. But apparently John Ashcroft knows better than we do. . .