A more elegant solution
An elderly Belgian man and wife are preparing to be euthanized together. They explain why in a startling interview.
An elderly Belgian man and wife are preparing to be euthanized together. François, 89, and Anne, 86, from Brussels, fear being lonely if one of them dies first. They are not terminally ill although Francis has been treated for prostate cancer for 20 years and needs morphine to cope with his pain and Anne is partially blind and almost totally deaf.
“We want to go together because we both fear of the future,” Francis told a Moustique, a Belgian newspaper in an extended interview. “It’s as simple as this: we are afraid of what lies ahead. Fear of being alone and above all, fear of the consequences of loneliness.”
The couple had made plans to commit suicide together by placing plastic bags over their heads. But their children opposed this, saying that there must be a more elegant solution.
The couple’s three adult children support their parents’ decision and their 55-year-old son John Paul even arranged it for them. They found it difficult to organise a joint euthanasia in the French-speaking part of Belgium. The couple’s own doctor refused to grant his request on their behalf, saying, “I have taken the Hippocratic oath; I give life, not death.”
But when they contacted a right-to-die organisation in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, they received an altogether different reception. “A friendly voice, warm, told me they could help us,” John Paul said. “’Yes, what you ask might be possible. Yes, this is a normal question. And yes, they could go together’. Later, I read somewhere the numbers: 82% of euthanasia cases in Belgium are in Flanders, 18% in Wallonia. This is revealing.”
“Fortunately, we have our son,” said François. “Without him, we would have left life as we had intended to start: with a plastic bag.”
“It takes courage to jump from the 20th floor and I am unable even if I wanted to do it,” said François. “It takes courage to hang, it takes courage to jump into the canal. But a doctor who makes you a shot and lets you gently fall asleep? It does not take courage.”
“If one of them should die, who would remain would be so sad and totally dependent on us,” said John Paul. “It would be impossible for us to come here every day, take care of our father or our mother.”
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