Today I am celebrating my mother’s life and thinking about the comfort her choice of physician-aid-in-dying has brought to me over the years. On my walk this morning I had a big smile on my face thinking of my time with her at the end of her life.
Today, September 5, 2013 is the 11th anniversary of my mother’s death. I am so glad that she had the choice to request a medication to hasten her death when life became unbearable. Mom was 90, living in Oregon, dying of cancer and on hospice, but her pain could not be controlled.
She was a quiet, private, shy person and didn't talk about herself, but it was very clear she wanted to die. I cried when I first heard her tell her doctor she wanted to die. Mom was comforted by my being there and we were able to share some quality time together. When my brother arrived Mom welcomed him with open arms and a big smile.
I sat at her bed the night before and when I put my head down on the bed she said, “Adrienne, don’t cry. I am alright!” I also head her practice for the next day saying “I love you all”. In the morning after quickly drinking the medication she had a little smile on her face before becoming unconscious and dying. It was a very profound and positive experience. She died peacefully at home surrounded by her two children, their spouses, her minister and two Compassion in Dying (now Compassion & Choices) volunteers. And, best of all she was no longer in pain!
My brother and I have discussed that this may have been one of the few times she really did something for herself. Thank you all so very much for your work toward giving New Mexicans this choice to have some control at the end of their lives. It can be a great comfort to the family and friends too!
Adrienne Dare - Silver City New Mexico
This letter was submitted to the ACLU of New Mexico and published with permission of the author. The ACLU of New Mexico and Compassion & Choices filed a lawsuit in 2012 against the State of New Mexico, asking the courts to affirm that physician-aid-in-dying for mentally competent, terminally ill patients is permissible under New Mexico law.