Susan Griffiths talks about her decision to die
'Lots of things are making me tear up these days'
A Winnipeg woman in Switzerland to commit assisted suicide explains, in her own words, her decision to end her life.
Susan Griffiths has multiple system atrophy, a rare disease that is already robbing her of the ability to perform the most basic bodily functions, and there is no cure or hope for remission.
The CBC's Donna Carreiro reports this week from Zurich, where she is with Susan Griffiths and her family in advance of Griffiths' planned assisted suicide.
Assisted suicide is against the law in Canada but not in Switzerland.
And so, on Thursday, Griffiths has an appointment with Dignitas, a non-profit organization that performs the procedure for both locals and foreigners.
'I must go'
"All along, having made this decision, you're reminded that you can change your mind, and even two days ago, my son Gareth said 'you don't have to go, you can stay here, you can change your mind, and I said 'no, we're going, we're going.'
"And today, the same question has been asked of me and I still feel I must go. (But) it was just the magnitude of it. I'm affecting a lot of people. (My granddaughter) for example, every now and then she gets really upset because she realizes what's going on.
"We have laughs and things, and it's just a shame that I'm going to bring an end to all of that because I couldn't keep it up anyway, indefinitely. But all of it's 'bang', suddenly gone."
On multiple system atrophy
"I knew right from the start where I was headed, and none of it included the kind of gatherings that (family and I) have had in the last two weeks. I'd be stuck somewhere in a corner of a room in an old person's home or something.
"I'm mad. I did everything I could to be a 'well' person. And it's a bit disappointing because I probably used to nag other people: 'If you don't stop those nasty habits, you won't be well or something' and that kind of fell through.
"(But) there's no point in being furious. It's a little bit like what we teach our children — if you don't waste energy on being angry, you can use that energy better."
On her Zurich medical assessment
"It was very brief. I thought it would be longer. He just talked about writing out the prescription and emailing it to the Dignitas people, and I will go there again on (Wednesday) for me to talk to him again.
"But he really didn't have a lot to say. It seemed to me it was a done deal, that it was decided before, when (I) got the green light. He knew that I was determined, he could just tell."
On saying goodbye
"We've had quite a gathering of different family members. I've had great fun watching (my grandchildren) jumping on the huge trampoline. And a good friend of mine from England was over and we had terrific laughs. And I realized when (she) was there that my bladder muscles have gone kaput, because she made me laugh so much.
"All the time I had difficulty behaving myself, but it was super fun.
"And so people were coming and going. The kids were going to school as usual. Went to a soccer game, sat on the sidelines in my wheelchair, which I absolutely hate.
"The first time I heard myself say 'bucket list' was (Sunday). I never thought of a bucket list before. Actually I'm beginning to panic, because I want to talk to so many people. I want to phone them.
"I know I won't have time for all of that. I brought all these cards I want to send them, and unless I organize in a nice lineup, I'm not going to be able to get it done. And I've got to get it done.
"Lots of things are making me tear up these days. It's just mostly the people stuff. I can't be the same person I was and I enjoyed being who I was, and when you can't be that anymore, it's a bit upsetting.
"There are lots of super people around today, making lots of noise and talking all at once. It makes me sad that I can't continue with all of that. They're going to be doing it all without me."
On assisted suicide
"I'm a little worried about how to (change the Canadian laws) about assisted suicide. I know my friends back home are planning something. Having written a letter to the MPs was a start (but) I haven't heard if there's been any decision about that, except that a French Quebec politician wrote in support.
"One of the letters I read is talking about the debate not happening. I'd love to know what can be done next. But I feel if the subject is moving along in Quebec and B.C., I really like the idea that we're in the middle of the two, and that we're kicking up a bit of a ruckus as well.
"If Quebec can get something to the Supreme Court to get passed, we'll be there to make it stronger and cheer for them. That would be wonderful."