Goodbye and Good Luck!

An 84-year-old grandmother in the early stages of dementia dragged a foam mattress to one of her favorite spots on Bowen Island, British Columbia, so that she could die the death of her choosing.

| Fall 2016

  • I do not like hospitals—they are dirty places. Any doctor will tell you to stay out of them if you possibly can. I would not want a fall, a stroke, or some unforeseen complication to mess up my decision to cost Canada as little as possible in my declining years.
    Photo by Gotovan
  • Life seems somewhat like a party that I was dropped into. At first I was shy and awkward and didn’t know what the rules were. I was afraid of doing the wrong thing. It turned out that I was there to enjoy myself and I didn’t know how to do that. Someone kind talked to me and made me laugh. I began to understand that actually I had to make up my own rules and then live by them.
    Photo by Richard Smith

August 18, 2014. I will take my life today around noon. It is time. Dementia is taking its toll and I have nearly lost myself. I have nearly lost me. Jonathan, the straightest and brightest of men, will be at my side as a loving witness.

I have known that I have dementia, a progressive loss of memory and judgment, for three years. It is a stealthy, stubborn and oh-so reliable disease. I might have preferred an exotic ailment whose name came trippingly off the tongue, but no, what I have is entirely typical. I find it a boring disease, and, despite the sweetness and politeness of my family I am bright enough to be aware of how boring they find it, too. It is so rough on my husband, Jonathan. I don’t think my lovely cat has noticed, but I’m not sure.

Dementia gives no quarter and admits no bargaining. Research tells us that it’s a “silent disease,” one that can lurk for years or even decades before its symptoms become obvious. Ever so gradually at first, much faster now, I am turning into a vegetable. I find it hard to keep in my mind that my granddaughter is coming in three days’ time and not today. “Where do we keep the X?” (coffee / milkshake-maker / backspace on my keyboard / the book I was just reading) happens all the time. I have constantly to monitor what I say in an attempt not to make some gross error of judgment.

There comes a time, in the progress of dementia, when one is no longer competent to guide one’s own affairs. I want out before the day when I can no longer assess my situation, or take action to bring my life to an end. There could also come a time when I simply must make a decision based on my deteriorating physical health. I do not like hospitals—they are dirty places. Any doctor will tell you to stay out of them if you possibly can. I would not want a fall, a stroke, or some unforeseen complication to mess up my decision to cost Canada as little as possible in my declining years.



Understand that I am giving up nothing that I want by committing suicide. All I lose is an indefinite number of years of being a vegetable in a hospital setting, eating up the country’s money but having not the faintest idea of who I am.

Each of us is born uniquely and dies uniquely. I think of dying as a final adventure with a predictably abrupt end. I know when it’s time to leave and I do not find it scary.

Leigh
3/2/2018 8:09:33 AM

What a beautifully written goodbye letter. So grateful that it could be shared here.




Pay Now Save $5!

Utne Summer 2016Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $40.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $45 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!




Facebook Instagram Twitter