At his own wake

At his own wake

john shields on twitter

Last June the Canadian government legalised what it termed “medical aid in dying for competent adult patients who are near death and suffering intolerably. “When his doctor, Stefanie Green, informed him that he qualified, Mr. Shields felt the first hope since a doctor told him more than a year before that he had a rare and incurable disease called amyloidosis … Having control over the terms of his death made him feel empowered over the disease rather than crippled by it, a common response among Dr. Green’s patients.”

This is a phenomenal piece of writing on Voluntary Assisted Dying, and one man’s journey into death. The day before he died he held a “living wake”, called “John’s Farewell Party” for his closest friends and family. “This was an Irish wake, without grief’s frantic edge. Shields was still here, sipping his final glass of American beer. Many looked over at him with wonder, understanding that he was offering them one final lesson. As the party wound down, Fox handed out the lyrics to the Celtic folk song “The Parting Glass.”

john shields wake

Click for New York Times article

Click for similar article in The Irish Times