I was not surprised when my mom announced to me, after first hearing about MAID, that, “If it should ever become necessary, that’s what I want to do!” My siblings and I often heard during our teenage years when mom was working on an Alzheimer’s unit in a care home that she didn’t want to live like that. She felt that maintaining dignity was of the utmost importance, as well as continuing to have a reasonable amount of quality of life. Less than six months after our MAID conversation, she was diagnosed with cancer, and approximately one month after that she used MAID, in the spring of 2017.
The thing I struggled with the most was trying to wear many hats at the same time. At the time that my mom was diagnosed, I was working as a palliative care nurse making home visits to terminally ill people. I soon found that I was juggling a lot – trying to advocate for my mom and fulfill her wishes, using my nursing knowledge and experience to troubleshoot situations and to manage her symptoms, and also support my siblings. I realized afterwards that I hadn’t taken care of myself, and had pushed aside many feelings, thinking, “Well, I have dealt with similar situations so many times at work, this is just the same.” But it wasn’t.
A few months after Mom died, I was contacted by one of the social workers who were involved in Mom’s MAID. Two of them were planning to start up a support group (the first in Canada!) and she asked if I felt the need to take part in this, if it would be helpful. I am so glad that I did, and found it extremely helpful to talk with others who had experienced the MAID situation with a family member or friend. It helped me to realize that the feelings I had were normal and the group members were very open about sharing their feelings and situations, which varied enormously, of course.
After the 10-week session was completed I felt that I could hopefully help others who were struggling with various issues surrounding this extremely emotional and sensitive time in their lives. This led me to become a bereavement volunteer with Palliative Manitoba, and ultimately to volunteering with MAID Family Support Society. I hope that anyone who has come to this site looking for support will reach out and connect – we are here for you!
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