VSED Stories: A good death for a Minnesota woman who championed VSED

Cheryl Hauser’s VSED story is similar to that of many others. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in her early 70s, she decided early on that she did not wish to live to the end stages of the disease. Her brother had suffered from the same form of dementia, so she knew from first-hand experience the depth of loss that comes in the later stages of Alzheimer’s. With the support of her husband and children, she decided she would use VSED to hasten her death, when the time was right.

What is different about Cheryl’s story is that she and her family were determined to bring awareness to VSED as an end-of-life option while she was still alive. One of her daughters is a birth doula and the other a death doula, so perhaps it is unsurprising that Cheryl was comfortable thinking and talking about her own death even as it crept ever closer.

In June, Cheryl utilized VSED to achieve what her family termed “a good death.” Her daughter chronicled Cheryl’s VSED journey day by day and collected photos and news links on a website, cherylhauser.com. The site’s “Press + Awareness” page includes links to many news stories, including one we shared on our blog in May that was written by her husband David McNally for NextAvenue.org. Cheryl, her husband David, and her daughter Wendy wrote extensively about Alzheimer’s, planning VSED, and the end of Cheryl’s life. Their vulnerability and willingness to share the hard moments is a gift to others walking a similar path.

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