Medically-assisted death is something we've all probably heard about, but also don't know tons about. I personally don't know anyone who has made that choice, have you?
Not surprisingly, it's pretty rare a thing for people to do. Less than 3,000 Canadians have chosen to do this since it became legal in 2016. But, for this couple who were married for almost 73 years, it was the only thing to do.
Let's meet the Brickendens, the first couple to really speak up about their decision publicly. Their decision really came from their love for each other. They went and did everything together, and that wasn't about to change.
George and Shirley Brickenden love story kind of seems like a fairy tale. But hey, they've been married so long, it only makes sense.
The couple met in 1944 when he was in the Navy and she was in the Air Force. Apparently, George proposed 6 days after their first date, knowing they were meant to be. Well, turns out he was right. They now have four children.
They had successful careers and long, happy lives together. Mr. Brickenden co-founded of an insurance company and breed horses, while Mrs. Brickenden was an amazing artist. Her watercolors and acrylics were sold at Montreal galleries and the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Despite all this, they knew that their time had come, and so they wanted to be able to decide how their lives ended. That's when they decided to look into medically-assisted death.
The laws associated with assisted-dying in Canada have strict criteria. For example, the death of the patients must be "reasonably foreseeable". So basically, they need to be close to a natural death.
The Brickendens said that they what the effects of old-age do to someone with a close friend, and they didn't want to go through the same kind of pain.
Mrs. Brickenden had a heart condition which, after an almost unsuccessful surgery, got her approve for medically-assisted death. Mr. Brickenden, however, was not approved as readily as she was, so of course, she waited for him.
Eventually, he too was approved and so they made their plans.
Of course, knowing the time of their death, the Brickendens threw themselves a "dying party" and family from all over the world, including Vietnam, Norway, Switzerland, and Scotland came to see them off. It was a bittersweet night full of jokes and laughter, just how they would've wanted it.
On March 27th, in their Toronto retirement home, they died hand-in-hand just like in the Notebook. They wanted to choose when and where their lives ended, and they did.
They died together, asking each other if they were ready and saying I love you to everyone pleasant. Honestly, this story got me a little teary-eyed. Love is a really powerful thing, and it's important not to forget that.