A Saskatchewan man, who held his wife as she took her own life, says he’s frustrated with the system that denied her access to a medically-assisted death.
Dave from Saskatchewan asked not to be identified with his last name when he shared his wife’s story on the Roy Green Show over the weekend.
His wife, Cecilia, suffered from fibromyalgia, which caused her great pain for 20 out of the 30 years they were married. Dave said she tried many options for pain management before starting to research assisted suicide.
“She was on morphine pills, medical marijuana — the whole slough,” he said.
“I called her my pharmacist because she tried all these pain medications and it wasn’t working, and so her quality of life was just not very good, for her it was really, really bad I guess.”
Cecilia decided to apply for medical assistance in dying (MAID) and met three out of the four criteria required according to the legislation under Bill C-14.
The problem, however, was Cecilia didn’t qualify for the requirement that her natural death be reasonable foreseeable and imminent. Dave said he remembers his wife’s reaction when the doctor from the MAID board called her with the news.
“She said, ‘I really beg to differ because my death is imminent, because if you don’t qualify this, then I’m going to take my own life within the next six months.’ And she did,” Dave said.
He said stress and uncertainly followed, as Cecilia was afraid she wouldn’t succeed on her own and her death would be prolonged in the hospital while she waited under do not resuscitate (DNR) orders.
“Her biggest fear was taking her own life wouldn’t have worked and she would have ended up in the hospital with no fluids and it would have taken her two weeks to die,” Dave explained.
In January, however, Cecilia died peacefully in Dave’s arms in their bed.
“I laid there for two hours and 15 minutes waiting for her to stop breathing,” he said, noting he then called 911.
“If you can call it that it was a good death — and it was exactly how she wanted to go, but she didn’t know.”
He said if his wife had qualified for MAID, it would have taken away the uncertainty and stress of planning it herself and she could have been surrounded by more family members.
In addition to multiple DNR notices posted around their home, she also left a suicide note to make it clear to police. Dave said his wife was of such sound mind when she planned it, she even left him lists of things he had to remember to do.
He said he is speaking out now to let people know how MAID fails certain people. He said the criteria of proving a death is imminent and foreseeable is vague.
Dave said he was treated well by the police when he was arrested and charged for failing to provide the necessaries of life.
Now, he is waiting to see if the Crown decides to go forward with the charges under the six month deadline.