Elaine’s Story

Elaine’s story

I believe very strongly that no family should be faced with the situation that we had to face of arranging to have a death in a foreign country.

About us

I am the widow of Jeffrey Spector who had an assisted death at Dignitas on 22 May 2015. Jeffrey was a businessman. We worked together in the media advertising business, of which he was the Director. We were married for over 22 years and have 3 daughters, Keleigh, Courtnay and Camryn. We were an incredibly close family and we all adored Jeffrey.  He was the life and soul of the party and we had many good times together as a family.

 Jeffrey was hit by terminal illness

In late 2008, Jeffrey started to have severe back pain and we soon discovered that he had cancer of the spine. He had an operation in July 2009 and underwent radiotherapy and tried all sorts of alternative medicines but it was all no help. By January 2015, Jeffrey deteriorated rapidly and had the choice of high risk surgery – which had a high probability of paralysis or death – not  doing anything and deteriorating further, or an assisted death.  He could not face paralysis or the loss of control over his life and lived in mental anguish knowing that he could not end his life at home when he wanted to. He chose an assisted death.

Jeffrey’s illness was a bolt from the blue for all of us and we hardly knew what to do. Jeffrey was clear from the start. He did not wish to live a life that deprived him of his faculties and which took away all the pleasure of living a rich and full life. He decided early on that there would come a time when he would chose death over a life without joy and control over his body.  He told us what he wanted and we could not persuade him otherwise.  So it was that he chose an assisted death in Switzerland when he could no longer bear to carry on living.  I struggled with Jeffrey’s choice for a long time.  I came to accept that it was his choice.  Our daughters and I have come to respect Jeffrey’s choice although we miss him hugely.

Jeffrey said that if he had had the comfort of knowing that he could die in England when things got really bad for him, he would have chosen to  live longer. As it was, he felt he had to end his life sooner as he wished to  be able to travel abroad under his own steam and in control.  It is a huge  source of  regret and loss to us that Jeffrey had to shorten his life because there was no humane way for him to die in England with assistance.

The law needs to be changed in England & Wales

I believe very strongly that no family should be faced with the situation that we had to face of arranging to have an assisted  death in a foreign country. Jeffrey always said that had he been able to have an assisted death at home, he would have thrown a party and said goodbye to all his friends and  when he was too unwell to carry on, he would have asked for  a dignified and painless ending- that is all he  wanted.

I have come to respect  Jeffrey’s wishes, and so am willing to start the journey of a legal claim.  I will bring a case, which highlights  that Jeffrey had a shorter life than he  or we wanted because the only way he could have a dignified death with help was to travel abroad when still well enough to do so.  It is a cruel and  inhumane law makes sick people do this when they are so sick.

Why we need funding and your help

We need your help to change the law. We cannot do this on our own and  without funding- we are not eligible for legal aid and most of us cannot afford to litigate as we have families  to look after. This issue is of  public importance and we should fight for this change together.  We need to raise funds to bring a  case in the courts.  Parliament has not provided the solution we hoped for. The House of Commons debate was too emotive and not based on evidence. We need to bring a case  before the High court which can assess all the evidence, the risk and the benefits- the hearing could last weeks.

What the donations would cover

We need £50,000 for our lawyers to do the work: get statements from others like me; get expert evidence from home and abroad; prepare a letter to the government lawyers; see their response and reply to it; do research on the law here and abroad; attend hearings to agree directions; apply for costs protection in the event we lose; prepare detailed grounds for the claims; respond to the grounds in response; attend more hearings to set a timetable to trial.

Eventually there will be trial- we don’t know how long this will take. We need to take take it one step at a time. Preparing for the trial will be a second stage once we know how things are developing and we will have a better idea of what will be involved and what financial help is needed.

Help us change the law

Please help us to change the law so people like me don’t have to watch the suffering and pain of a loved one who has to die abroad. A safe and painless death is what we all want.

You can help by:

  • donating money
  • spreading the word
  • Tweeting when you donate

Thank you for your support!

Contact us on yourdeathyourchoice@bindmans.com.

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