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November 14, 2019 Beyond The Dash

'We want to conclude our lives on a high note': Couple Publishes Obituary Explaining Decision to End Their Own Lives

"We believe it is a person's fundamental right to choose whether or not to go on living..."

'We want to conclude our lives on a high note': Couple Publishes Obituary Explaining Decision to End Their Own Lives
Carl and Susan Chase ended their own lives. Then they published an open letter as an obituary to explain why. (Getty Images)

An October obituary published in the Bangor Daily News explains a couple's reasoning behind ending their lives "on a high note." Carl and Susan Chase, "longtime Brooksville residents and huge contributors to the local music and arts scene, died together in their home on October 27," according to The Weekly Packet

The couple's decision was not made lightly: "We believe it is a person's fundamental right to choose whether or not to go on living when they approach the "end-game" of life, and for many reasons that time has come for us. We have come to this decision both independently and together."

"Dementia lurks for all of us and we are determined to escape that fate."

The obituary details the factors they weighed together in coming to this final conclusion, as well as their own individual reasons for not wanting to live beyond their 70s. Recent failing health issues led the couple to think twice about "stretching out the process [of death] over as many years as possible":

"We have enjoyed generally good health until the last few years, when it has started to become clear that the body is wearing out. Where most people these days tackle every medical issue as it arises, we've chosen not to spend our last years in an escalating battle against our body's failures, taking more and more pills, signing up for exhausting operations, waiting for the next issue to show up." 

"Too much time, energy, money and good will is squandered trying to eke out those last days, months and years."

Carl and Susan's joint obituary delivers a message of death positivity too, as the pair openly welcome death as a natural end to a good life. Facing escalating health issues made the couple think about their impact on society going forward, making their decision to die both personal and ethical: "We feel that we have made some small contributions to the communities in which we have lived, but they have - and will - become less and less. We dread becoming useless, using up more and more resources and attention, and contributing less and less in return." 

Western society has been criticized by death positives as death-averse. Death positives promote the philosophy of accepting death when the time comes, and making the time leading up to death comfortable both physically and emotionally for all involved. There is also emphasis on the ethics surrounding our deaths; for example, on reducing the environmental impacts of our deaths. 

"While it is always possible that things will turn around for the better for the human race here on earth, it is impossible to imagine that it could happen anytime soon - certainly not in any possible lifetime of ours." 

As the world looks increasingly like a dystopian novel, Carl and Susan Chase don't want any part of it. In their obituary, they discuss the mounting pressures of over-population, and the constant barrage of bad news.  

Disheartened that humans continue to "make the planet unfit for ourselves", and that there is "no system or social structure capable of managing the mess," Carl and Susan make it clear: They've had enough of living, and are ready to "be remembered as the persons we've been up till now, rather than gamble on what we may become over the next 10 - 20 years."

With the issues facing the world today, a growing number of people are preparing for a challenging social, environmental and political climate within the next couple of generations. For Carl and Susan, this impending crisis helped them make the decision not to battle their health issues. Instead of waitlists, surgeries, declining memory and the "dread [of] becoming useless," their death came with relief, informed choice, and the knowledge that they have both had "happy lives, blessed with extraordinary good luck."

"We sincerely apologize to anyone we have inconvenienced or let down by our decision"

Even a "good death" leaves a wake of pain. Knowing their deaths would inevitably impact their family and loved ones, the couple included an apology at the end of the obituary:

"There was no good way to schedule it without having to involve others. That was unthinkable. Although we are blessed with wonderful family and friends this was too personal to share with anyone. We appeal to you for understanding, and beg that you will help each other in picking up the pieces we inevitably leave behind."

Read full obituary here.

The The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24/7 toll-free hotline that can help if you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts. Pass this number to a friend, or save it for future reference:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


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