Friday, 7 February 2014

Way to go, David!

Here's a news story you might have missed. And that's a pity, for it is a story of courage, common-sense, and utter love.

The story concerns a couple from Friesland in The Netherlands. David Postma and his wife, Willemke, had been married for 61 years. David was 86 years old and Willemke 84. Willemke had been suffering with her health for several years and in November she had to be taken to hospital and it looked as if she would then have to go into a care-home. Although David had been in relatively good health up until then, he too, felt that he had had enough of life. They therefore decided together to put an end to their lives and chose a date in January to do so, informing their children of their decision.

January was chosen so that they could spend a final Christmas and New Year together with all the family.

According to Dutch law, David and Willemke could not ask for help from their doctors, as they were not in the unbearable and hopeless medical situation that Dutch law requires for this. David, however, used the Internet to search for a solution, and this he found in an organization called De Einder. With their help David was able to complete all the necessary formalities, and locate the products needed to prepare the potion. He took care of everything, even returning letters that arrived during the last few weeks, marking them "deceased" and stopping any subscriptions that were still active.

David and Willemke made no secret of their intentions and both family and friends were informed of the chosen date, so that there was plenty of time for good-byes. Christmas was a very pleasant occasion, with the whole family getting together in one of their son's houses. Old photos were passed around, together with plenty of memories, some tears, but also a lot of joy, remembering the happy times.

On the final day, a Saturday, the family gathered again, this time at David and Willemke's house. Willemke's favourite accordion music was playing and there was some dancing. Willemke remarked how nice it was to be able to dance out of life. David prepared two pots of yoghurt and the plan was that he and Willemke would each eat a pot while lying on their bed. This is what happened, too, and as each felt the effects of the potion, they waved a final goodbye to their family members.

David had prepared the notice of death for publication in the local newspaper. He even composed a poem to be included in it. The last line read, "Wy ferlitte no tefreden dit ierdse bestean, it wie ús tiid, wy gean." (Contented, we leave this earthly existence, it is our time, we are going.)

David and Willemke, you're a wonderful example. I wish all the best to the family members that supported you in your courageous action.

You can read a Dutch newspaper report here.

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