Elderly couple gets final wish to die together in rare double euthanasia

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elderly couple
An elderly couple sit on a bench next crocus flowers in a park in Duesseldorf March 17, 2010. Reuters/Ina Fassbender

A rare double euthanasia allowed an elderly Dutch couple to “pass away confidently while holding hands.” They were both 91, and their final wish was to die together after 65 years of marriage.

Nic and Trees Elderhorst got a lot of support from family members and friends when they told them about their decision. Their last days were spent saying farewell and arranging for their funeral.

Before they died, the couple exchanged final sweet words, one of their daughters shared. “They gave each other a big kiss and passed away confidently holding hands,” the couple’s daughter said, according to the Daily Mail. The pair had lived together in their home down of Didam since they got married in 1952.

Exceptional death

Five years ago, Nic suffered a stroke and needed to take antibiotics every day to stay alive. His wife had cared for him in the recent years while seeing her own health slowly decline.

Doctors felt that the conditions for the couple to end their own lives had been met when Trees was diagnosed with dementia earlier this year. Euthanasia laws were introduced in the Netherlands 17 years ago.

The Elderhorsts’ double euthanasia is exceptional as only a few couples with a joint death wish get final authorisation. Dick Bosscher of the Dutch Association of Voluntarily Life Ending perceives it as a coincidence that both people met the requirements for euthanasia at the same time.

End of Life clinic spokesman Koos van Wees explained that the “difficulty is that both of the married people have to be more or less in the same situation with their illness.” Dual requests are rarely honoured.

Euthanasia in Australia

Last month, Premier Daniel Andrews announced that Victoria is set to become the first Australian state to legalise voluntary assisted dying. He said that a bill to legalise euthanasia will be soon introduced in state parliament because it is time to get out of the way of those who wanted a dignified death.

In the Netherlands, debate has been ongoing over the proposed extension of euthanasia laws, which seek to give people over the age of 75 the right to assisted suicide. The idea is supported by liberal parties, but Christian groups vowed to oppose the proposals. Meanwhile, political parties led by the left-liberal D66 Party argued that some conditions must be met, which include a “sustainable, well-considered and intrinsic” wish to die.

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