Chapter 3: When plans change
If final consent couldn’t be given
The morning she was to have a
medically assisted death, she lost the ability to consent. We were devastated.
It was what she had wanted, and now her suffering was prolonged, and there was
nothing we could do.
In Canada, prior to March 17, 2021, people accessing MAiD needed to provide consent at the time of the assisted death. If the person couldn’t provide consent, you may be experiencing intense and possibly conflicting emotions. These might include:
Despair or disbelief that their choice to have a medically assisted death could not be met
Relief or gratitude that you had additional time with them
Anger that there weren’t options to fulfill their wish at the time
Frustration that although the law changed, it was too late for them
After March 17, 2021
Changes to the law that governs MAiD came into effect after March 17, 2021. Now, under very specific circumstances — including that natural death was foreseeable and a written arrangement is in place with the MAiD practitioner — a person can receive MAiD on their chosen date even if they no longer have capacity to consent on that date. If this happened, you may be feeling:
Conflicted because you had hoped they would regain capacity before they died
Relief or gratitude that this option was available
Angry that they didn’t chose to die naturally if they were so close to the end
Disappointed that the opportunity to communicate until the end was not possible
What may help
Remember that neither the person nor you had complete control over how things unfolded.
Make time to turn to those you know are supportive.Being able to express your thoughts and feelings to someone you trust or writing them down can be helpful.