I thought I was ready, we talked about everything. But I just broke. I was prepared for my sister to die with MAiD, but not for the finality of death.
It’s what he wanted. He had control over his death when he had no control over his disease (ALS). And I think it helps with my grief. But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss him with every fibre of my being.
It's difficult when someone close to you dies. A medically assisted death can result in feelings and experiences that may be different than with other deaths. Grief and Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) is part of a learning series that helps you to understand and care for yourself as you grieve. It was developed by the Canadian Virtual Hospice in collaboration with national grief specialists and people who have grieved a medically assisted death. We are grateful to those who shared their wisdom and experiences.
About Grief and Medical Assistance in Dying
When someone you know has an advanced illness and has requested MAiD, your grief may begin well before their death. Both before and after their death, you may have conflicting feelings, such as relief and guilt. Other people, including the person who chose MAiD, may have different feelings or beliefs than you. If you have children in your life, you may feel unsure about how to talk with them.
A medically assisted death can bring unique challenges: You may be comforted or disturbed by knowing the exact date that the person has chosen. You may worry about how other people will react if they know about the person’s choice to use MAiD; or you may wonder what to say or how to answer questions. If you or others don’t agree with the person’s decision, this can create additional stress and conflict. After the death, you may have lingering questions, particularly if you didn’t know that MAiD had been requested.
Because MAiD is relatively new in Canada, you may not know anyone else who has experienced another person’s medically assisted death, and as a result you might feel very alone in your grief. You may be experiencing a range of feelings and thoughts that will change as time passes. Know that grief takes time.
We recommended that you review the nine Grief Basics modules found on our MyGrief.ca site:
How to use the learning series
You might be reading this shortly after the person died, or some time down the road. We encourage you to re-visit these resources often as you may only be able to absorb so much at any one time. What you find helpful may change over time. You might recognize your experiences or find that some of them aren’t reflected here. If there is content you believe should be added, please tell us about it in the survey at the end.
As you read this, you may have strong emotions or feel uncomfortable. It’s OK to step away from it for a while, or it might help to talk with a trusted family member or friend. Canadian Virtual Hospice provides online Discussion Forums where you can link with others who may have experienced similar losses. You can also ask a confidential question to our healthcare team at Ask a Professional. You will receive a written response within three business days (not including Canadian statutory holidays).