Sweater Weather

Peter On Dying

(For fourteen years, Peter has written an annual post for this blog.  Close to the time he passed away, I suggested he write how he feels about dying, and I am publishing it without his permission.  Here are his words.)

“I’m planning to end my life. I’ve entered hospice, and in a few days, I’ll stop eating and drinking.


I’m happy with much of my life. I have a wonderful wife, two accomplished sons and two lovable grandsons.  Judy and I have been happily married for more than half a century.  We live in a condo that overlooks the Charles River.  We can walk to Harvard Yard where I sat in on classes (or more recently Zoomed in).

But my advancing Parkinson’s Disease and a stroke-impaired left leg are limiting my mobility.  You have to have lost your mobility to appreciate what that means.  When I gave up my driver’s license, I couldn’t go many places alone. Now I must call for help to use the bathroom.

I am not in pain, but being helpless hurts.  I realize that dying may be uncomfortable, but it won't be as bad for  me as it was for my mothers' parents who died in Auschwitz. 

When I think about the trouble I am having at the tail end of my life, I worry that Judy may have trouble in her golden years without my help.  That may be largely in my imagination.  Not having my help may be an advantage. 

I’m sorry I’ll be missing half of my children’s lives and most of my grandchildren’s lives.

I think I am making the right choice, but if I haven’t, I won’t have to live with it.”


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I hope that knowing how much he loved you and his family is a comfort to you. Thank you for sharing the choice he had made it as well why it had been the one he had chosen. Take care of yourself, and enjoy the beauty of each season!


Thank you for sharing Peter’s thoughts with us, Judy. What an extraordinary life and love you two shared.


What a wonderful idea, to allow Peter this opportunity, and to allow you this reminder of why he made the choice he did. Your sharing it is a real gift to all of us -- not only a window into Peter's thoughts, but also food for thought as we all must face how to handle this stage in our lives. Thank you, Peter and thank you, Judy.


This was so touching to read, Judy; to see Peter's courage and clarity at the end of his life, and also his humour. It's a privilege to get to know this wonderful man through your blog. Thank you so much for sharing his last letter. It is a help as I reflect on what scenarios may emerge for me at the end of my life, and to prepare for them.

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