This is the story of a good death.
Ricardo was a clinical psychologist, avid reader, enthusiastic traveler and devoted amateur musician. After many years of slowly-developing cognitive problems, he was diagnosed with dementia. He was fully aware of the catastrophic decline and loss of self and agency that he would suffer if he were to let his disease run its course, and he was determined to avoid this fate.
Ricardo, his wife, their two daughters and their partners began to meet regularly on zoom to think about how he could safely and legally end his life. The only legal option available would have been to voluntarily stop eating and drinking (VSED). However, a person who is relatively healthy can linger for several weeks with this method, and Ricardo and his family did not want to put him or themselves through this onerous process.
Ricardo decided to have a voluntary assisted death at the Pegasos clinic in Switzerland, and chose a date for six months later. Those six months were spent saying good-bye to family and friends in person and on FaceTime, an intense and moving experience for all who were part of it. The family traveled to Switzerland, where Ricardo had a peaceful and painless death at Pegasos. After moving a dial that released the lethal medication into a vein he died within moments, surrounded by his closest loved ones and listening to his favorite music.
The good death that Ricardo was able to obtain is only available to people in California who have the financial means and physical stamina to travel to Switzerland. Ricardo passionately believed that people should have the right to end their lives, rather than suffering with prolonged illness or dementia. California can and must do better for its people.