Jean had been a right-to-die campaigner all her life. At age 86 she had various medical conditions including episodes of fainting which she was finding increasingly frightening. She felt her life was complete and wanted to end it.
I am doing nothing wrong. We are not breaking the law.
What alternative do I have?
She was convinced that she wanted to end her life in a way that was legal, did not implicate anyone else, and she wanted to end her days in her own home.
She chose to starve herself to death. She died peacefully in her own bed with family members by her side in October 2014.
Jean stopped eating 5 weeks before she died. Normally death by voluntary refusing food and liquid takes about 2 weeks, depending on the level of health of the individual. However, Jean didn’t stop drinking water until two weeks before she died.
Many articles give accounts of Jean’s death:
There is a British Humanist Association, (now Humanists UK), tribute here.
Jean’s daughter Bronwen can be seen discussing her death in a TV interview here. Two important quotes from that interview:
She died peacefully in her own home, and she was not alone, and that was what she wanted.
… choosing to end your life in the way my mother did, by stopping eating and drinking … is perfectly legal and you still have access to medical care through your GP.
While Jean’s approach shows one way anyone can achieve their own end of life, it requires great determination. A week before she died she told the Sunday Times:
It is hell, I cannot tell you how hard it is. You wouldn’t decide this unless you thought your life was going to be so bad. It is intolerable.
MDMD believes there should be more compassionate option available in this country in which lethal medication could be legally prescribed and professionally supervised for people who, like Jean, rationally and independently decide that their life is complete and they want to die.