How romantic to end your 66-year marriage Romeo & Juliet-style, says the new documentary "Living & Dying: A Love Story."
Recounting the story of Oregon elderly couple Charlie and Francie Emerick, the documentary favorably portrays their decision to die by self-administered lethal injection, which was legally sanctioned by the Oregon Health Authority after the two were diagnosed with deadly diseases. Charlie had been suffering from advanced Parkinson's Disease while Francie suffered from lymphoma.
According to the documentary, both Charlie and Francie were examined by medical and mental health practitioners before making the decision and were supported by family. In fact, the family watched them die together. Here reads the synopsis of those events:
With loving and logistical support from eldest daughter Jerilyn, medical evaluations by caring physicians, and practical information and guidance from volunteers with End of Life Choices, Charlie and Francie move through the Death with Dignity qualification process.
The family’s remarkable acceptance of death, open communication, and intentional preparation are highlighted in one extraordinary scene where Francie discusses with Jerilyn and Sher the words to use when notifying friends and relatives after she and Charlie die.
As the date for their planned death nears, their family gathers with laughter and tears to celebrate Charlie and Francie’s 70 years together, and to say goodbye. Days later, Charlie and Francie fulfill their heartfelt wish — peacefully passing, hand in hand.
Jerilyn, the couple's eldest daughter, told reporters the decision was "natural."
“They were each other‘s best friend,” Jerilyn said. “In their last years, Dad was Mom’s eyes and Mom was Dad’s ears. It was natural for them to want to die together”.
Though the documentary does present opposition voices from close friends and relatives, the film portrays their decision in a positive light.
According to LifeNews, "Bioethicist Thaddeus Mason Pope speculated that they may have been the 'first couple' to take their lives together under Oregon’s Death with Dignity law."
Enacted in 1997, approximately 1,300 people have taken their lives under the Oregon "death with dignity" law. California legalized the practice in 2016.