10 Dec, 2021

Goodbye, farewell …

Tim here – you’ll know me as David’s friend, carer and blogmaster:

On 8th December 2021 at 12.20 (CET) David took his last breath and was pronounced dead by the staff at Dignitas.  It was always his wish to have full control over the last moments of his life, and despite the seemingly endless hurdles in the past couple of weeks, he did finally get it.  

This is not an obituary – after all, what can I say here that he and the hundreds of comments haven’t already?  

None of you will have known what a typical day for David in the last weeks and months has been like.  Multiple disturbances each night; not being able to find a comfortable place to rest his head because his jaw had become weak and wouldn’t stay in a natural position, stomach cramps, restless legs (eased by several mid-night walks around the flat), aching limbs, ever atrophying muscles, difficulty breathing, choking on saliva and mucus as well as the constant fear of it, and vivid dreams induced by the medication he took to help him sleep.  Then when morning finally came; often waking up with blood on the pillow because he had bitten his tongue and cheek in his sleep, worrying that his front teeth might fall out because they had been loosening from the force exerted by his constant head-drop, exhaustion from the night before, washing and dressing which could take an hour, feeding and managing the sickness he often felt from it, struggling to find the ever changing balance of medication that marginally eased some of his symptoms, replying to correspondence and taking the time to get his affairs in order, and then trying to find some solitude, joy and rest.  That truly doesn’t seem like the half of it, and I’ve even left out some difficult things.

David’s decision to join Dignitas was made in July 2019 and his final wish of ending his life on his terms before it was too late finally came to fruition.  He feared he had left it too late and if he had chosen a date in 2022, for instance, I’m not sure he would have been able to make the arduous journey.  So for his sake, I’m glad he was able to go when he did, but devastated that he had to at all, and if the law was different in this country, he would still be here to celebrate a final Christmas.   

As it has been clear to see via his blog posts, but also very much shown ‘in real life’, he was stoic throughout.   

Now, this is not the time to get political, but David should never have had to go through what he has in the past weeks in order to end his suffering on his own terms – legally and safely.  David and I have campaigned over the past year in order to help the cause of Dignity in Dying.  The campaign for a change in the law here in the UK – for the proposed Assisted Dying Bill to become law.  It would give people like David – a terminally ill, mentally competent adult – full autonomy of the way they want to end their lives; at home, surrounded by their friends and family, and without the need for a truly arduous day-long international journey at the most vulnerable time of their lives.  As David has already explained, the ever-changing circumstances he faced in the past weeks with travel restrictions being enforced, exemptions being required, restrictions easing and entry requirements tightening, added huge amounts of stress at the most inopportune time.  We felt that the days we saved to relax in the final week were robbed from us as a result.  In the end, despite the extreme difficulties of which even he hasn’t mentioned, he made his wish come true.  An odd thing to celebrate, of course, but it was a celebration of sorts.   A pyrrhic victory in a way, where the victory was death itself.  

If you’ve been following the blog you’ll have no doubt questioned your own views on David’s final wishes.  Some of you will have supported David being able to fulfil his wishes, but may not agree with what he did.  I hope by now he has been able to convince you to change your mind.  And if you were already in agreement with his choices, I hope you can help continue our fight to change the law in this country.  Keep the conversation going, normalise the conversation and feel empowered by being able to talk about it frankly.  Being in control of the way one leaves this world when faced with such dreadful terminal illness should be a basic right.  Let’s fight for that and make sure what David fought for in his last months was not in vain.  

David’s last hours were calm and happy. We smiled and we joked as we always did. He had no fear or doubt about what he was about to do.  His death was quick, painless and peaceful.  Just as he had planned. Just as he had hoped. 

Here is a short video we made in his last days.  It doesn’t begin to portray the difficulties we experienced along the way, and as you can see, he’s often smiling in the pictures.  He was pragmatic and content at this point, and I can gladly say he is finally free from the torment of motor neurone disease.  

Requiescat in pace …

23 Comments

  1. No words.

    Reply
  2. Dear Tim, this is the most wonderful and moving video and shows as, yet again, the extraordinary courage of our friend. I am so grateful to you for making it. It gives comfort, relief and gladness that this awful journey ended so calmly and peacefully. Thank you.
    And thank you now for all the amazing care that you have given Dave over these long months. You describe very powerfully the hideous indignities that he had to cope with and he couldn’t have done so without you. Your friendship, humour, love of music ( maybe not always the same!) gave him a very necessary quality of life, too,
    As dd the blog! Such a vital link to his friends and to those concerned about MND. Through it he has helped to raise awareness of the importance of the End of Life Bill and I’m sure that many of his readers will now be campaigning for it and urging others to do the same.
    Dave, became a powerful and selfless voice when he had no voice. With little energy or strength left he wanted a better way for others and, one day soon we must make this happen
    So thank you, too, Tim, for enabling the blog to happen and for being an amazing blog master and true friend . And love the yellow roses – often a symbol of friendship and of farewell
    With love, Jan x

    Reply
  3. Oh Tim…Thank you for sharing all of this, and for the beautiful video… David’s typical day? What can one say… just what? Not only the fight against MND but all of the life-admin’ too… I wonder if he was able to enjoy the mundane and admire the beautiful, on his journey… He must have done (no need to answer)… Who can deny that his decision was the right one… of course it was… Yes… we have to be able to win the right to ‘go’ under our own terms. We must all be glad his final hours were calm and happy … Thank you for all of these posts… I don’t know you, but I wish you all good things, Tim… Graeme
    PS… can you tell us something about the accompanying music to the video

    Reply
    • The work is sung by Voces 8……fabulous group and such wonderful words for this video.

      Reply
      • Thank you… yes… beautiful, Graeme

    • Goodbye my friend, so peaceful and happy, leaving me with memories of such fun over the years. Thank you Tim you have been wonderful looking after such a wonderful man. There really are no words …..

      Reply
    • Dear Tim,
      Thank you for sharing such a beautiful video of David and his journey.
      Thank you for being a wonderful friend and an exemplar carer to David.
      A salute to the David, we knew before MND and the David with MND who never complained.
      Warm regards
      Dr Etheldreda Kong

      Reply
  4. I would like to say that I am sorry Tim, but I am not. I am sad,very sad at the news, but David got his final wish, its just a pity he had to go through all that to get it. I for one am in full agreement with his right to a dignified death after so much suffering. I am sorry that I never got to meet David, but got to know him through his blogs, so at least he was able to do that with your help. I am pleased that he had you as a friend, carer and supporter. My thoughts are with you now.

    Gilian x

    Reply
  5. Yes, I echo the thoughts above. David has brought so much to so many lives. He was a wonderful friend. He was able to achieve so much when he was so ill and to end his days as he did because he had such an amazing friend as you. Tim, I too do not know you but my thoughts are with you at what must be a very different time for you now.

    Reply
  6. Thank you Tim for all you did for David and his friends.

    Reply
  7. Wow. “Uncle” David has been in my life since I was born.

    What a man 🙂

    Reply
  8. ‘PRIDE’ on his back
    Thumbs up landing
    Snow from above
    Friend by his side
    ‘Be good’ his last words to us
    Smiles
    Beautiful

    Thank you Tim
    Thank you Dignitas and Dignity In Dying
    Thank you Dave
    xxxx

    Reply
  9. We echo all the above comments, but particularly want to add our thanks to you, Tim, first for the immense difference you have made to David’s life in the last couple of years, and second for enabling the wonderful blog. David was a friend for over 50 years and it was a comfort to us that he was so well looked after when he most needed it. Thank you.

    Reply
    • I can only reflect what has been said above, sincerely and with deep thanks, Tim.
      Now it is important for YOU to take some time out………. to get some rest, some space, a period of calm, some thinking time, some music, and know that we all care for you too.

      Reply
  10. Tim, You have become a friend of us all. Your friendship and care for David has endeared you to all his friends. Thanks for the blog and for the lovely video. I’m so glad David got the end he hoped and worked for, though the world is poorer without him.

    Reply
  11. Thank you very much Tim, for sharing your blog entry and this moving video. David surely will be missed deeply by his many loyal friends. Also: the way you were there for him, taking care of him, is really wonderful! Hope you’ll find time for some rest and reflection in the company of dear ones, during the weeks and months to come. Best, M

    Reply
  12. Tim, I wanted to echo the many others who are thanking you for everything you’ve done helping Dave, in so many ways, right to the end.
    You have demonstrated true friendship, doing whatever was needed.
    Lovely to read that the humour between you lasted, and to see the positive spirits in the video.
    Thank you

    Reply
  13. Goodbye, David. Sorry you needed to go but happy that it was your choice. Seeing Tim’s video brought back memories of times in Saudi Arabia. Sleep well. We’ll try to be good!

    Reply
  14. What a fitting tribute to a beautiful human. I’m so sorry for his loss, to those who knew him much better than I did.

    Even in his passing he taught us much, in the same way he did through his life.

    Rest in Peace, David

    Reply
  15. Thank you so much for the wonderful Blog and for
    being a good friend to David the family cannot thank you enough
    God Bless you and keep safe

    Reply
  16. Thank you, Tim.

    Reply
  17. We’ve never met,Tim, but thank you so very much for the extraordinary devotion you have shown in supporting Dave. The video is so moving, an unforgettable tribute to Dave’s courage and your care.

    Reply
  18. Endorsing all of the above. Tim played so many roles, and, above all, the way that he played them was heroic.

    Reply

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