By KATE LEAVER
It feels strange to celebrate the death of a 29-year-old woman. Even stranger to thank her for taking her own life.
But that’s what we have to do for Brittany Maynard, who chose to die with dignity at her home in Oregon, USA. Who left this world asking us all to be kinder to one another. Who got us talking about the right to die with dignity in a more profound way than ever.
Brittany made headlines around the world when she set the date of her own death for November 1, 2014. She chose to slip away, surrounded by her loving mother, husband, and family.
And she left us this message:
“Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more.
“The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type… Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!”
In the last few weeks of her short life, Brittany advanced the cause for assisted suicide with enormous grace. She made herself the poster child for a complex, controversial issue — it was a brave, bold, and deeply moving decision.
Brittany deserves to be remembered for her extraordinary contribution to the debate about physician-assisted suicide. She deserves our complete respect, for making an excruciatingly final decision in public, for the sake of other people who want to die on their own terms.
With her dying breaths, Brittany told the world what it’s like to know death is coming for you. She used her own anguish to prove why we need to give terminally ill patients the right to die with dignity.
None of us will ever truly know the bittersweet relief she must have felt, knowing that she had the drugs to help her choose the time of her own death. Rather than waiting for the cancer in her brain to take everything she had, everything she lived for, everything she was, she demanded control of her own fate.
Thank you, Brittany Maynard.
Thank you for making us think about the mortality of the terminally ill.
Thank you for dedicating your final weeks to the fight for the right to die with dignity.
Thank you for your courage, your candour, and your positivity.
Thank you, thank you.
Some moments Brittany chose to share: