By Judith Schwarz, PhD, RN
Ruth* was 93 when she made her decision to stop everything that was keeping her alive. She was DONE! She called her son and daughter and asked them to be with her when she initiated her plan to end her life by voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED). She knew she could no longer stay safely alone at home. COVID had eliminated visits with neighbors, she could no longer care for her garden or herself, yet she remained fiercely independent and determined to never go to a nursing home.
She knew about VSED because, five years earlier, her husband, who was receiving hospice care, also made that decision. Ruth spoke with me during her husband’s experience. I am a nurse, and for two decades have been the Clinical Director of an end-of-life advocacy and support organization in New York State and provide consultations about end-of-life options and choices.
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*All names have been changed.