Alan’s Transition – VSED in 9 1/2 Days
I’m excited and curious about going to the next stage. I don’t have any fear. I have sadness. – Alan
A couple of weeks before Alan began the VSED process, I asked him: “How does it feel to you to make this decision, to anticipate this big shift? Alan was able to equate starting the VSED process with other big shifts in his life. He summed it up by telling me, “It feels like it did when I moved into the intentional community, when I moved to Bellingham, when I moved to Cambridge to start college, when I moved to Andover to start high school, like new worlds to learn about, and new things to do. I looked toward all those things with eagerness.”
The following narrative was compiled from the caregiver’s log, but I refer to myself, Phyllis, as “I” in describing my times of interaction with Alan during his VSED process.
I offer this log, and re-telling of Alan’s dying process, for several reasons. If you or a loved one considers VSED as an end-of-life option, you may be wondering what dying like this might be like. Or you may be reading this while a loved one is in the process of dying and you will be able to relate to the day by day narrative. I hope you find this information useful.
When one supports another person through the death process, it can feel like being totally adrift at sea. There are no familiar bearings and many questions may arise.
When one supports another person through the death process, it can feel like being totally adrift at sea. There are no familiar bearings and many questions may arise. The uncertainty of when death will come makes time warp; time evaporates. I offer this narrative to support you through this process. If you read this after a loved one dies, you may be able to answer some lingering questions in your mind or the mind of others. These details confirm our common humanity and vulnerability inherent to life and in dying.
On April 8, 2013, Alan was having difficulty stringing sentences together. He had very little to say and mostly spoke with few words or short sentences. I asked Alan how he saw the VSED process unfolding for him. He answered, “I think I will pass in one week.”
Alan started his VSED process on April 10, 2013 and died on April 19, 2013.