By Ian Richards
“When David walked the dog that night, [his wife] took advantage of his absence to tape her head into a plastic bag. She ended her life in a terrible way, all alone.”
Last Friday, British film star Patrick Stewart recounted the painful struggle by his childhood friend’s wife with uterine cancer that spread to her liver, lungs, kidneys, spine, and hips.
Gillian Pinder’s relentless pain led her to deliberately overdose on pills. However, Gillian’s suicide attempt failed when her husband, David Pinder, felt compelled to call EMS after he found her unconscious, even though he prayed she would die in her sleep. She recovered from the overdose. Subsequently, she resorted to the desperate act of suffocating herself with a plastic bag to end her suffering, after she sent David out of the house to walk the dog.
Stewart was so moved by this tragedy that inspired him to become a spokesperson in support of death with dignity legislation in Britain, as he explained in an op-ed published in The [London] Daily Mail:
“Gillian should have been allowed the choice to quietly slip away in David’s arms …
“Under the current, barbaric law, this option was not available to her. As a result, while she still lay dead upstairs, a grieving David was subjected to police questioning from midnight until 6 a.m. the next morning. He was not allowed to see or sit with his partner’s body, even though he had found her and called the emergency services. Despite Gillian’s best efforts, he was treated as a suspect in a potential murder.
“Many of us have witnessed our loved ones suffer a lingering and painful death that is sometimes made worse by the very medical advances designed to help us. This is fuelling an increasing public groundswell for change.
“It is cruel and inhumane that we compel people such as Gillian to end her life alone, instead of in the arms of the man she loved, in order to protect him from prosecution. The current law is forcing people who may simply want to end the unhappiness and indignity of the end of their lives into an even worse situation. It is piling stress upon unimaginable distress.”