39 Comments

This was heartbreaking to read.

I was once vaguely in favour of the idea of medically assisted suicide, but am now utterly opposed to it. Here in the UK we do not have a scheme like Canada's but I have always taken an interest in the subject and kept an eye on the developments in Europe as well. My attitude was changed by the suicide of our youngest son aged 25 after worsening mental illness. As he was an adult it was difficult enough for us as parents to talk to the psychiatric services who were supposedly looking after him but ultimately failed him. We are still struggling to get the health service to admit their mistakes, of which there were several, in his care. The grief and anger are hard enough to bear as it is, and we only have to challenge their lack of professionalism. It's hard for me to imagine how I'd feel if he had died as the result of a deliberate act by the 'health service' under a MAID type scheme. Had that been the case, and he'd had his life terminated medically by a 'healthcare professional', I'm not sure I'd be a free man any more. I fear that rage would have taken over, and I'm not someone prone to it.

There are well established ways to keep people who are clearly dying comfortable with painkillers and sedatives in their final days and hours. This was done for both own my mother (cancer) and my mother-in-law (scleroderma), when it was clear that the end was near. There is a vast moral and practical difference between that and positively ending a life with drugs, whatever the ailment.

The latter is in effect an inversion of the duties of a medical professional.

It seems to me that Canada has made a grave error with its MAID scheme, and is intent on making matters worse and more contentious, rather than hesitating or even better, reversing course.

I fail to understand the frame of mind of the people who promote it and wish to expand its scope. It is as if they are wilfully blind . I worry that as the number of lives taken by MAID grows, there will come a point where some of the bereaved could take out their rage on those responsible. It could get very ugly.

Expand full comment
Sep 19, 2023Liked by Christopher Lyon

Thank you for this record of what happened to your family. I believe there is upcoming a symposium about drug use by those who consider themselves to be "addictions specialists" and one of the sessions will be discussing MAiD. This is setting alarms off for safe supply advocates because, quite obviously, most who self medicate are doing it as part of their staying alive strategy for as long as they can. Obviously it is dangerous, especially right now with the poisoned supplies, but we cannot judge those who live with C-PTSD and trauma. There's reasons of wanting to stay alive that has people accessing any safe supply services and products they can find.

Anecdotally, a woman in Vancouver took herself to hospital because she was suicidal. While there, a "carer" asked her if she would consider MAiD. Quite clearly she wanted to live despite suicidal ideation, because she delivered herself to a place she thought she would be safe.

These are truly troubling times, and with MAiD many people with disabilities warned us of this happening. I once had a friend whose parents were encouraged from the get go to institutionalize her for having cerebral palsy — hospital caused. She went on to write books, get married, give presentations, complete a university degree, travel the world solo, and own her own condo. Now in her 50s, she's still treated like dirt in the medical system. It's appalling.

I'm so sorry for your loss, for the death mongers, and for the scars that you carry. BC is currently a terrifying place to have any kind of medical issues. I too had (have) parents who were (are) unwell psychologically. It's …. a lot no matter how you navigate it. Solidarity. k

Expand full comment
May 15, 2023·edited May 16, 2023Liked by Christopher Lyon

Thank you for bringing your concerns "forward." This essay is beautifully written, and absolutely harrowing (the last few paragraphs, as "Provider became Death," just chilling).

"Provider also told me that she had 'never lost sleep' over any of her deaths, as evidence somehow of her skill in approval, and that 'families are messy' as if we were too much bother to contact in advance."

Provider doesn't like families, and not just because recalcitrant family members raise bothersome objections, ask uncomfortable questions. Families are a reminder that patient is deeply embedded in complex familial and social relationships, which gives the lie to the rationale/pretext of autonomy.

Expand full comment

Truly the banality of evil.

Expand full comment

This made me cry. I am so very sorry this happened to your father, you and your family. We are truly living in a culture of death.

Expand full comment

You give heart-rending witness to “the banality of evil.” I’m enraged and so astounded: How has it come to this? How is this so accepted, so de rigueur? How are there so many people so willing to prop this evil up, to blithely systematize it? We should respond to this cold, calculating, clinical evil with torches and pitchforks. Pray without ceasing—and be ready to fight.

My heart grieves for your father, your family, and you, Mr. Lyon. And for all of us. Dear God, help us all.

Expand full comment

I don't think I'm missing what you are saying. What I get from your well-considered story is that you disagreed with with his decision to end his life with MAID. And that you believe he did this to cause deliberate harm and pain to his family. And that somehow, the system was complicit. I do wish you peace with these beliefs one day. That's all I wanted so say. Namaste.

Expand full comment

I am so sorry for your loss. This is horrifying beyond words. As the mother of two adults with Down Syndrome I live in fear for their future if their dad and I pass away before them.

Our country has sunk to a new depth under this libertarian government that is looking to balance the health care budget by getting rid of “less thans” in our society. Or maybe it’s a covert fascism, it’s hard to tell.

We need to get back to protesting and standing up for the rights of ALL and putting supports in place for LIFE and dignity so that people can’t be conned into making these appalling decisions.

Expand full comment
Dec 4, 2022Liked by Christopher Lyon

This is reprehensible beyond words. There is absolutely nothing dignified about these state sanctions killings not to mention the callous attitude of the MAiD provider who by all appearances seems to have the mindset of a cold-blooded killer. Death should be a sacred family matter and not in the hands of the state that in some cases pushes vulnerable individuals to opt for a speedy exit. In a healthcare system where death is an option what are the chances that vulnerable individuals won't find themselves entrapped or lured into it? Thank you for sharing your story I hope that you can find some measure of comfort by sharing this traumatic event.

Expand full comment
Dec 4, 2022Liked by Christopher Lyon

Thank you for writing this piece.

Next October will be 40 years since the bioethicist, Daniel Callahan, warned that starving people to death (a practice in hospice) could result in "social disaster." Tom Beauchamp and James Childress in the 4th of 8 editions of their textbook, Principles of Biomedical Ethics, wrote that Callahan's warning was "overly stern," but acknowledged the risk:

"There could be a general reduction of respect for human life as a result of the official removal of barriers to killing. Rules against killing in a moral code are not isolated fragments; they are threads in a fabric of rules, drawn in part from nonmaleficience, that support respect for human life. The more threads we remove, the weaker the fabric becomes."

Forty years later, we have record high suicide rates, which include record low ages (children), high rates of mental illness, general life dissatisfaction, family instability, and other indices (including random and mass shootings) of despair and a weakened social fabric.

I'm so sorry for the tragedy you witnessed and for the pain you surely suffered in conveying it in print. Kudos. I hope it will contribute to reversing this terrible development.

Expand full comment

I'm very sorry for your loss, and for what you have been feeling after your father's decision. I'm fortunate to have a husband to share my journey with, and as we approach our seventies we are both very clear about what we want, should our bodies (and/or minds) fail us. I really hope our children can find peace with our choice, as we have. My sincere sympathy goes out to you on the loss of your dad.

Expand full comment
Dec 1, 2022·edited Dec 1, 2022Liked by Christopher Lyon

You took the time to write this brilliant piece and I took time to read it (as someone newly diagnosed with terminal cancer).Sorry for your loss.

I am taking a personal stand against active vs passive euthanasia based on slippery slope issues, expectation of compassionate, competent palliative care vs medieval magic, etc.

My primary principle is moral and biblical based on the sanctity of life, sovereignty of God, etc.

Thank you for sharing your story on this complex issue.

Expand full comment
Nov 27, 2022Liked by Christopher Lyon

Hi Christopher, I am so sorry for the loss of your father. It's an incredible failure of the Canadian healthcare system that patients can be fast-tracked on MAiD, but it takes many months to gain access to mental healthcare. I would encourage you to submit your writing to a medical journal -- more physicians need to be aware of what is happening in Canada, and I believe would be outraged at how your father and family were treated. One that comes to mind is the Journal of Palliative Medicine, but ethics or internal medicine journals may also be interested.

Expand full comment

Thanks for sharing and sorry for your loss. What a tragic and harrowing tale. This well-written account illustrates the casual nature with which death is dealt out by "providers". How can anyone, after reading this, think that "safeguards" make any difference to anyone?

Expand full comment
Nov 27, 2022Liked by Christopher Lyon

Thank you for sharing.

We just went through a similar experience, only my father in-law completed suicide by alcohol. Oddly he wanted to execute the MAiD but he continued to use the suicide/euthanasia monikers, which ultimately pointed to other undiagnosed mental illnesses and so they refused to discuss it.

Be well, Roger Pothier

Expand full comment

What a tragic, troubling and infuriating chronicle of what your family has had to contend with. I am so sorry for your loss may God comfort you and bring you peace during this season of grief.

Expand full comment