In our family, we have always been very open about death and dying. We talked about it regularly, which I learned over the years was not typical, but we wanted everyone to know we all wanted to be organ donors. And we each wanted to express our desire for a dignified death. This was incredibly important to my mother, affectionately known as Moish, because she watched her much-loved sister die painfully and slowly in a hospital so she was adamant that wasn’t going to happen to her. Every small procedure that required a short hospital stay was started with “make sure everyone knows I have a DNR!”

When MAID became legal in 2016, Moish was thrilled. She believed this was the most compassionate and respectful way to honour the wishes of people who did not want a prolonged and possibly horrible death. And she firmly believed in everybody’s right to choose the kind of death they wanted. Moish said many times – I just want to die in my sleep in my comfy bed. But if I can’t do that, I will choose MAID.

In January 2021, during a short hospital stay for an inner ear infection (yes, we had the DNR!), the doctors discovered a mass at the top of Moish’s right lung. They wanted to investigate further; she said absolutely not. At 88 years of age, she was very clear that she wasn’t going to extraordinary lengths to prolong her life. She wanted to spend whatever time she had left doing the things she loved, with the people she loved. To nobody’s surprise, she applied for MAID about 4 months later and was approved very quickly. We moved up to our beloved cottage not long after and she enjoyed the company of her children, all her grandchildren and her many friends from around the lake.

She decided on a date in mid-July to have the MAID procedure in her home. Yes, so she could be in her comfy bed. We were all with her and she had a beautiful, peaceful death. Exactly what she always wanted. She picked the date so we could return to the cottage, where we had grown up making so many happy memories. “That way, you can all be together after”. (A mother to the end.)

At the time, I wish I had known there were people available that I could have talked to – people with lived experience who would completely understand what I was going through. Even just a few conversations at my low times would have been an enormous comfort. This is the reason I volunteer with MAID Family Support Society – so other people have someone to connect with during the hardest time of their lives.