Nan Maitland, well known in the WFRtDS community and active member of FATE (the Scottish based RtD Society Friends At The End) died last week on March 1rst after an assisted suicide at Dignitas in Zürich, Switzerland.
She was a very active member of Friends At The End for many years. During this time, she wrote excellent book reviews for the FATE Newsletter, organized FATE meetings in London, and advised many individuals, in the UK, on how to travel to Switzerland for a physician-assisted suicide (actually, accompanying one person there in 2005). Since Tokyo, 2004 she was a regular and active participant in all WFRtDS biennial congresses.
About two weeks before, she had written the following message which she asked to be sent to her “Dear Friends and Colleagues in the World Federation of Right to Die Societies” after her death:
“By the time you read this, with the help of FATE and the good Swiss, I will have gone to sleep, never to wake.
“For some time, my life has consisted of more pain than pleasure and over the next months and years the pain will be more and the pleasure less. I have a great feeling of relief that I will have no further need to struggle through each day in dread of what further horrors may lie in wait. For many years, I have feared the long period of decline, sometimes called ‘prolonged dwindling’, that so many people unfortunately experience before they die.
“Please be happy for me that I have been able to escape from this, for me, unbearable future. I have had a wonderful life, and the great good fortune to die at a time of my own choosing, and in the good company of two FATE colleagues. With my death, on March 1st, I feel I am fully accepting the concept of ‘old age rational suicide’ which I have been very pleased to promote, especially in the past fifteen months.
“Being active in the right-to-die movement, both in the UK and globally, has been an enormously important part of my life in the last few years. My first World Federation conference was in Tokyo in 2004. Then, and later in Toronto, Strasbourg, Paris, Frankfurt and Melbourne, it has been wonderful and inspiring to meet so many amazing people who have been determined, often in the face of great odds, to help others to a peaceful, pain-free death. I really hope that everybody’s important and vital efforts will continue, and result in legalized assisted dying becoming a reality in many more areas of the world in the coming years.
“Best wishes, Nan Maitland”
She was a stalwart for change and died as she chose – although all of us are sure she would have preferred to have had the possibility to die in her own home.