Many have seen images of those dying in hospitals during the pandemic – alone, hooked up to tubes and machines – and said, "that’s not for me." Laura Weil’s friend did something about it.
Dying well in a pandemic isn’t easy. It takes planning and attention to detail. My beloved friend Fran struggled with serious, chronic illness her entire life. She began planning for her death 20 years ago.
Fran had spent plenty of time in hospitals over the years, and always made the best of it. She charmed every staff member, provider and even her hospital roommates.
I think Fran never planned to die in a hospital, but the pandemic made that idea absolutely horrific. Fran was a woman of community and loved having friends and family nearby.
When it became clear that her battle to survive was drawing to a close, Fran approached her care providers about the Death with Dignity Act. This 2016 California legislation allows terminal patients to access a cocktail of medications to end their life. It is difficult to qualify. She had to demonstrate that her illness was terminal, that she was not being coerced, was not depressed, and was of sound mind and able to make such a permanent decision.