Chapter 22 » 22.88


My father chose to end his life, after three years of chronic pain and illness which increasingly robbed him of his faculties. Towards the end of his life he came to resent medical science, which provided oxygen for sixteen hours a day to keep him alive. His life was being unnaturally prolonged and he felt he had a right to end it when his pain and suffering became intolerable.

During the years of his illness I saw my father change from caring parent to dependent child; a brave man, overwhelmed by pain and immobility, became a broken man. Yet in those years of caring I came to know my father in a way I had never done when I was a child. I had long discussions with him, gave him treats, took him to his favourite places; an opportunity to give to someone who had given so much to me.

My meeting helped sustain me. My father was constantly on our healing list. I was surrounded with love and support when I came to meeting with tears of frustration and despair. After his death, meeting helped me to celebrate his life and supported me in my grieving and recovery from emotional exhaustion. I can now see my father’s decision as an act of courage.

Vivien Whitaker, 1994

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