As part of the Globe's in-depth series on End of Life decisions in the 21st century, we asked you to tell your stories around this difficult topic. Readers from across the country joined the conversation:
Thanks to the Vancouver Hospice team, my mum, at 75, was able to die at home in her own bed. I administered all her meds and helped tend to her needs in the final days of her life. The experience was profound, though hugely stressful because I'd never been with a dying person and I didn't know what to expect and how to handle some of the events that occurred.
All said and done, it couldn't have been much better and I was happy for Mum that she never had to go to the hospital. I certainly support the hospice movement, and couldn't have managed without all the support and care from the team of nurses, doctors and other staff that allowed us to keep Mum in her own home. I know she appreciated it, too, even though she was unable to talk in the last days.
From David R :
At age 95, my grandmother fell and broke her hip. After hip surgery, an embolism was discovered that could kill her... My mother asked if grandma had this second surgery, would she walk or even get out of bed again. The doctor said she would not but, without the surgery, grandma might die within a few days. My mother then informed the doctor that permission for the surgery was denied. Grandma died three days later.
My mother then felt a great deal of guilt for allowing her mother to die. I asked my mother what she would want if that was her in the hospital and the doctor asked me for permission to operate. Mother said that I should deny permission. Last year, my mother died with a "No Code -- Do Not Resucitate" order, one day short of her 100th birthday. She had dementia and mentally died about two years earlier. It was beyond her time to die. Instead of sadness, I felt relief.
My father, aged 79, went into a coma. He hadn't been eating, his veins were no longer accepting the intravenous feeding. After 3 weeks my sister and I were about to assist his dying. He died the night before. It's a difficult decision to assist in a death.
From Grieving in Ottawa:
My mom died last Sunday morning from neuro-endocrine cancer. Helpless was all my family could feel that we could not stop this disease and prolong her life. We did a DNR since prolonging her life meant prolonging her suffering. She went fast and she went peacefully surrounded by a loving family. There was nothing we could do.
From Carol Weremy:
I am 74 years of age and have had two major surgeries in the last 5 years. I have had an Advance Directive for 15 years. My family were comforrtable as they could be under the circumstances but knew what my wishes were. The converstation with my husband and family was hard at the time of signing the directive. I concider it a gift to my family. My doctor and the hospital I normally go to have a copy. Vancouver General was able to get a copy from My home hospital when I was having an emergency visit and did not have a copy with me. I encourage everyone no matter what your age to have an advanced directive in place. One never knows what the next moment has in store. BC is in the process of encouraginng all its members to have one in place. Do it you will have no regrets, and great peace of mindfor you and your family