My Dad died through the MAID program on June 1, 2022.

I am Canadian by birth but have lived in Scotland for 25 years with my husband and my two children. My brother Ian lives in Austria with his family.

Due to COVID restrictions we were not able to see Dad for close to 3 years until we all met in Scotland in April 2022 with our families. We had a “Christmas in Scotland” with turkey, Secret Santa presents, decorations and lots of Christmas cheer. When Dad arrived in Scotland, he looked particularly frail, unwell and had lost a lot of weight. He was also bothered by a very deep cough that left him breathless. We initially wondered if it was COVID. Unusual for him, he also had no appetite and slept a lot. After our holiday together, Dad made the long journey back home to Kingston and remarkably, but not without incident, made it home safely. Just a few weeks later in early May he telephoned us to say that he was not feeling well, and Ian and I encouraged him to go to the hospital immediately. Within 24 hours he learned that he had terminal lung cancer and other secondary cancers. Our beloved Dad was very unwell.

Ian and I flew to Canada immediately. By the time we landed in Canada, Dad had already done his research on MAID and knew that was what he wanted. Living abroad, we didn’t know that medical assistance in dying existed in Canada so it was a new concept for us both to understand. It was a challenge for us initially to understand Dad’s decisions but also what it meant for us a family. Dad was ex-military and taught chemistry for decades, so he was very scientific in his research and approach. As we learned more about MAID and Dad’s decision, we fully supported Dad to make this happen. Dad wanted his MAID to take place sooner rather than later so things progressed quickly.

Over the coming weeks, Dad had wonderful support as he prepared for his death. He moved to a transitional care unit and was very well looked after by the staff there. He met with friends and colleagues, played cribbage and enjoyed ice wine with friends. Ian and I travelled back and forth between Europe and Canada to be with him. During Dad’s final few weeks we had more than a few laughs, and a few tears. We said good-bye to him while holding his hand and allowed him to die on his terms, just three weeks after his initial diagnosis. The last thing he heard was that we both loved him very much.

There are many things about MAID that don’t fall into the “usual” death category, and living abroad there are few people who understand about assisted dying. Perhaps they can’t relate to Dad’s death or our grief so it can be a lonely place to come to terms with him being gone. It is a different kind of grieving. In the months following his death, I received amazing peer support from MAID Family Support Society and was blessed to have met people in Canada who have this shared experience of one aspect of grief. I am volunteering with MAID Family Support Society so that I can share my experience with the hope that it can help others on this journey.