Imagine being present for the death of your younger sibling.
Imagine if the death was intentional.
Imagine if you assisted in ending the life of your loved one.
Hard to imagine, but when it became my reality, the aftermath proved to be both surreal and disturbing.
One year after my brother’s death my mother died, leaving me both an only child and an “adult orphan”. The disenfranchised grief I experienced due to my brother’s choice to end his life was now triggered by another loss. Realization that I was not alone in these experiences motivated me to reach out to create a safe and compassionate place for conversations which may be difficult to share with friends or family. The professionals involved in the death with dignity movement are still in the process of discussing the legal obstacles and defining careful screening of their dying patients. My mission is to raise health professionals’ awareness of the impact on grieving loved ones after a potentially stigmatized assisted death. Attention and compassion needs to be extended to those left at an empty bedside – the overlooked participants.