Social worker turned writer Amy Bloom has written a new book. Unlike her others, this one isn’t a novel. Instead, it’s a memoir of her husband’s last days, and his choice to end his life. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2019, Bloom’s husband Brian Ameche knew he didn’t want to experience the slow, difficult decline the condition was creating for him. In 2020, with support from Bloom and his family, he chose to fly to Switzerland for a euthanasia appointment.
Alzheimer’s disease had already robbed him of many of the most important things in his life, and was taking more and more of his ability to do the things that mattered. Ameche, 66, made the choice that it wasn’t going to take everything. Instead, he would choose to end his life before the disease did. But the problem was that he wasn’t considered terminal, with less than six months to live. He didn’t live in a state where euthanasia was an option. Flying to Switzerland was the only way to make his choice happen.
Dignitas, a Swiss non-profit, required his medical records, $10,000, and a lot of effort to keep things moving forward. Bloom and Ameche went to the Zurich suburb of Pfäffikon, where Dignitas has an apartment. Bloom held Ameche’s hand, while he swallowed a lethal dose of sodium pentobarbital. Bloom’s friend Kay Ariel met her in Zurich, so Bloom wouldn’t have to fly back to the States alone. One of the requests Ameche had made of his wife before his death, was that she write about the experience.
Originally, she was against it. But when she returned to New York she decided to get to work. The pandemic hit, and normal life in the city ground to a halt. Bloom wrote, and by September she had a draft for her editor to read. The early reactions of readers have been overwhelmingly positive, and Bloom hopes that both the love and the grief come through in this very personal work.
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