Daughter's heartache after dad's assisted suicide in Switzerland
A DAUGHTER has told how her dad was forced to travel to Switzerland to end his life.
Colette Norfolk, 35, travelled with her dad, Patrick, to a business unit near Zurich in June where he took a cocktail of barbiturates to free him of the debilitating effects of motor neurone disease (MND).
She said Patrick was desperate to end his life as the disease would soon render him unable to feed, bath and look after himself before he died.
"Dad didn't want to suffer the indignity of having other people tend to his every need," she said.
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"He didn't want to be in that position and, as his condition was getting worse and worse, the more he wanted to push the process through quicker.
"It was a race against time in the end."
Colette said her dad was left with no choice but to travel to Switzerland.
"It is something I would never want anyone to go through but I knew, as did my whole family, this was the right decision," she said.
"Dad loved being outdoors and the landscape and setting offered a fitting place for us all as it brought back a lot of happy memories but it was not what he wanted.
"His garden at home, the Yorkshire countryside, were places that were special to him and it is so upsetting he was not able to end his life somewhere he wanted."
Patrick, who was 65, was diagnosed with MNDin October 2008 and, as his condition deteriorated and with British law forbidding him to end his life in this country, he took the decision in January to register with assisted dying company Dignitas.
Patrick, accompanied by his wife, Anne, Colette and his other daughter Bridget, flew to Switzerland where he died on June 28.
Colette said her dad, who was a landscape gardener, had stressed he didn't want to end his life in a care home.
"There was no way he was moving into a home. For him, that just wasn't an option," she said.
"He would have hated it and for that reason there was never a doubt in my mind he was doing the wrong thing.
"I would have wanted to do the same."
Patrick was given the green light for the procedure in May.
Colette said she began to count the days until their flight to Switzerland.
"It got harder and harder as it got nearer and nearer and the days seemed to go by far too quickly," she said.
"We spent a lot of time talking about how best to approach the trip but nothing can really prepare you for something like that.
"This was the last time I would ever see my dad and the thought of that made me sick.
"Before we set off, dad made it very clear he wanted this to be a normal family holiday and that is what we tried to have. We just made the most of it."
Patrick, of Swanland, had visited a consultant before making the final arrangements and was told he could have two more years to live.
Colette said her dad's decision was very much his own but one that he was inevitably pushed into.
"He talked to my mum about how he was feeling right up until the end," she said.
"The fear was that if he left it any longer he would not be able to get over to Switzerland.
"There is no doubt had he been able to take his own life in England he could have lived longer and may still have been alive now. That is one of the hardest things to take and no one should be forced into a decision like that."
Colette is hoping her dad's story will highlight the struggles families go through and force more people to speak out in support of assisted suicide.