TEDx Bellingham Talk

On November 25, 2013, seven months after Alan died, Phyllis presented a talk at TEDx Bellingham in Bellingham, WA. It was a very poignant and emotional talk explaining the five choices Alan made leading up to his decision to voluntarily stop eating and drinking (VSED) so he didn’t have to live into the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Toward the end of 2011, Phyllis’ husband Alan was diagnosed with both Alzheimer’s disease and laryngeal cancer. Ultimately he decided to voluntarily stop eating and drinking as a peaceful means to the end to his life. Sometimes Phyllis will refer to this process as VSED, voluntary stopping eating and drinking. Alan died one month shy of his 77th birthday. So he is Not Here By Choice.

Video courtesy of TedXBellingham

A few weeks before he stopped eating and drinking, he was sitting at the breakfast table and I glanced over at him and noticed that he was crying. I said, “Honey, what are you feeling? He said, “I’m not afraid of dying and I’ve lived a good life, but I want everyone to know about VSED.”

I spontaneously replied, “You’ll just have to trust that I’ll be your vehicle.” So here I am today sharing this exact story with you.

Death is something most of us don’t want to think about. It frightens us. Yet it beckons us. I’m suggesting you take the time now to learn that you have more choices about the end of your life than you may be aware of. If you have this awareness, you may have less fear about dying, and this can bring you more peace today. I’m going to tell you about my husband and the five unusual choices he made and during the last year-and-a-half of his life.

Click to read the full transcript