Personal Stories

In this section we describe various end of life experiences which inform the right-to-die debate. Some are public news stories, others are personal experiences.

If you have a story you think would be of interest to others considering end of life options, please contact us.


Because of our iniquitous laws, Richard had no option but to travel abroad to die.

By the time you read this, Richard will have ended his life at Dignitas in Switzerland. He wanted to share his story to shine a light on the iniquity of the law in the UK that forces people to travel abroad to end their lives. Richard found it frustrating that probably the most common argument raised by opponents of an assisted dying law is that the vulnerable might be coerced into ending their lives. He emphasised that the process of applying to Switzerland was arduous and involved several discussions with doctors and others, during which the professionals would have readily identified anyone acting against their will.  He suggested this argument is being used as a smokescreen to conceal opponents’ true motives, which may be more controversial and rather harder to justify.

Given the unlikelihood of any proposal to change the law coming before Parliament in the near future, Richard wholeheartedly supported the campaigning efforts of people like Phil Newby and Paul Lamb, who are challenging the government through the courts.

Richard’s equanimity as he faced the inescapable decline of the body and the prospect of an assisted death in Switzerland drew admiration and amazement from family and friends alike. To achieve such a calm and measured state of mind, Richard drew on the Buddhist practice that he embraced for thirty years.

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Joan Cheatle

Joan suffered from dementia and other problems. Her last two years of life were a living nightmare for her. She wanted to die but no one could help her, and she couldn’t help herself. “Make them see sense” she said when she heard that doctors could not help her to die as she wished.

Her story is a stark reminder of the cruelty of the current medical and legal situation… and a warning to people who do not want to end up like her.

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Gill Pharoah

Gill suffered an attack shingles which left her permanently lacking in energy. She also suffered from back pain and tinnitus. She chose to end her life with a medically assisted suicide at Lifecircle in Basle Switzerland before her condition deteriorated.

If there had been an option to end her life at a time of her choosing in the UK, it is very likely that she would not have chosen to go so soon.

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Jean Davies

Jean decided that her life was complete and she wanted to end her life, but she wanted to die at home rather than having to travel to Switzerland for an assisted death. She chose to end her life by stopping eating and drinking.

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Avril Henry

Avril suffered various medical conditions which made here life intolerable for her, though none were terminal. She wanted to end her life, but thought that travelling to Switzerland would be horrible. She only considered this as a last resort. Instead she took the risky approach of importing illegal drugs.

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Our Mother - A Supporter's story

A supporter tells the story of how his mother, suffering from blindness and other symptoms resulting from terminal cancer, chose to end her life by medical assisted suicide in Switzerland. The story demonstrates how it can sometimes be difficult to achieve this due to obstructions from the medical staff in the UK.

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Rev Charles George Eyre

MDMD supporter Ruth Eyre-Pugh tells the story of her father’s death and how he was denied the assistance to die he craved. Rev C. G. Eyre was a former president of the Methodist Church in Ireland, showing that even religious leaders can seek a dignified assisted death when they are faced with the reality of its alternative. His daughter, a retired veterinary surgeon used to giving animals a peaceful death, contrasts the terrifying death of her father with the compassionate deaths she provided for animals.

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Anne Vickers

Bob, an MDMD supporter, tells the story of his sister who chose to end her life at Dignitas in Switzerland because she was very keen to avoid that awful end faced by mesothelioma patients, whereby they become so weak they cannot even turn over in bed and every breath is a fight for air as the tumour squeezes the last airspaces. Bob explains what it was like for him to accompany his sister to Dignitas, where she was able to have the good death she desired.

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Margaret Cole

MDMD supporter Janet Penton, tells the story of her mother who lived to almost 101. Her last few years were anything but the good death she had hoped for. Her story shows the importance of making an advance decision, especially now that compassionate doctors are less able to help people towards a peaceful death in the way they did a generation or two ago. There is currently no satisfactory replacement for the help doctors used to give. That is one reason why the law needs to be changed.

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A Daughter's Story

An MDMD supporter describes the circumstances that led her father to take his own life.  She respects that this was his settled wish and outlines the reasons which led him to his well-considered decision – loss of loved ones; deteriorating health; a desire to maintain control and a wish to die at a time of his choosing.  The fact that he felt forced to die alone by suicide – because the law denied him any other choice – was unfair both to him and to his family.  The story highlights why it is essential for MDMD to keep campaigning for a change in the law so that the option of a ‘good death‘ is made available in this country for those people who feel that their ‘life is complete‘.

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Lessons from the deaths of my father and husband.

Diana Conyers’ story highlights many issues including the importance of considering your end of life wishes well in advance, and documenting these in an advance decision. It demonstrates the practical difficulties of making complex and uncertain decisions at times of crisis, especially when mental capacity is diminished or lost completely. Diana draws some insightful conclusions from her experiences.

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