My father wanted to live his last weeks as naturally as possible

Infection upon infection became the lot of my father. Antibiotics were no longer able to counteract a growing deficiency of his respiratory system. Worse ... My father was dying from lack of oxygen.

At the hospital in Marseille, the surgeon proposed a risky operation of the right lung. I accepted. It was surgery or losing him. The operation was successful and the surgeon, in his wisdom, decided not to harass my father with aggressive chemotherapy. He was 82.

Cancer progressed slowly, as is often the case with the elderly. My father appropriated it with a broad smile and ensured the day to day monitoring with his practitioner.

Four years followed. Years of renewed dialogue, explanations, reconciliation, years of spiritual renewal ardently sought. Brightly coloured years, but also gray and black when the end slowly and painfully approached. He suffered much, but refused to take tranquilizers.

My father had to be cared for at home, he wanted to live his last weeks as naturally as possible.

And in fact, he was mobile almost to the last day, at home.

My father had the privilege of having the reins of his life until the end, assisted in his daily needs of course!

This is what I wish fervently to anyone with a disability, aging or a disease.




  1. Jule koch  July 19, 2014

    Thank you, Madeleine. That is my fervent wish too.
    My first husband died of emphysema after many years of illness and suffering, both mental and physical, and many hospitalizations. For all of the hospitalizations he had requested DNR – do not resuscitate, but for his last hospitalization he asked to be resuscitated. I was present when he died. They had told us that dying from emphysema is a horrible death but he just slipped into a coma and died peacefully. My second husband died of pancreatic cancer and the morphine held almost to the end. We asked many times if he was in pain and he always replied no. The last 24 hours he could not answer but he did not seem to be in distress until about 4 hours before the end. I was not present for my sister’s death; she died of bone cancer, but my mother said it was very peaceful. Mom said at one point my sister “made a nice sound” and Mom though she was “coming back to life”. After she died we ate some food she had cooked just 3 days before she died. None of these family members asked or expected to be killed. They died secure in the knowledge we were all doing our best to help them. My mother now has Alzheimer’s and it is hard to watch her slow decline but there are also many beautiful moments. The dementia sometimes makes her paranoid and fearful, which is common with Alzheimer’s. The paranoia is very hurtful to families and caregivers, who only want good for the person. Presently the patients’ fears are irrational, but if “mercy killing” were legal, their fears would be justified.