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:

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:

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.