Novelist and VRNW member Kate Christie, whose mother Jane used VSED in early 2020 to escape the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, has released a new book, The VSED Handbook: A Practical Guide to Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking. A combination instructional manual/personal memoir, The VSED Handbook provides detailed instructions for planning and carrying out VSED while offering glimpses into one family’s experiences with the process. Nancy Simmers, co-founder and current Coordinator of VSED Resources Northwest, wrote the foreword for the book, which she describes as “a worthy guidebook for contemplating your own end-of-life choices.”
Christie’s impulse for writing the book was, as she notes in the introduction, “to provide an actionable model for how to go about planning for and carrying out VSED, with the aim of achieving the type of peaceful passing my mother did.” In just under 85 pages, Christie provides a step-by-step guide to preparing for VSED, an overview of what the process itself entails, and information about the legality of hastening one’s own death. She supplements the process-oriented sections of the book with relevant examples from her family’s experience, highlighting tips that she would have found useful while helping her mother Jane prepare for and carry out VSED. In addition, the book’s appendixes offer a VSED timeline, a sample VSED statement, a medical values worksheet, and a list of additional resources.
While VSED is a widely available end-of-life choice, it remains relatively unknown and can seem daunting for those just learning about the process. This book seeks to change that. Through examples drawn from her family’s experience, Christie sets out to demystify VSED. With an emphasis on the importance of planning, palliative care (including using medication to ease the dying process), and a broad support network, Christie describes the stages of VSED in clear, concise language, and highlights the challenges and unexpected gifts of accompanying her dying mother on her final journey.
Written with Jane’s encouragement, The VSED Handbook—available in eBook and paperback—offers a way out for those who are suffering from a terminal condition but do not qualify for medical aid in dying (MAID), either due to geographical location or because their condition doesn’t meet the strict requirements for MAID. As Christie notes, a peaceful death free of suffering like the one her mother achieved with VSED is possible—but only with planning, perseverance, and the support of a trusted team.
To order your copy of The VSED Handbook, visit the VRNW Reading List page or buy directly from Amazon. Note: Each copy purchased by clicking to Amazon from this blog post or from VRNW’s Reading List earns VSED Resources Northwest a small commission that helps support our projects and goals.