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BlueJessamine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 09:24 AM
Original message
Conductor Downes, wife die in Swiss suicide clinic
Source: Associated Press

LONDON (AP) British conductor Edward Downes, a longtime stalwart at the Royal Opera and maestro of the first-ever performance at Sydney's iconic Opera House, has died with his wife Joan at an assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland. He was 85 and she was 74.

The couple's children said Tuesday that the couple died "peacefully and under circumstances of their own choosing" on Friday at a Zurich clinic run by the group Dignitas.

"After 54 happy years together, they decided to end their own lives rather than continue to struggle with serious health problems," said a statement from the couple's son and daughter, Caractacus and Boudicca.

The statement said Downes, who became Sir Edward when he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991, had become almost blind and increasingly deaf. His wife, a former dancer, choreographer and television producer, had devoted years to working as his assistant. British newspapers reported that she had been diagnosed with cancer.



Read more: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gZ6RA...
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fbahrami Donating Member (154 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 09:42 AM
Response to Original message
1. truly civilized
A life dedicated to art and family and a peaceful death. What more to ask for?
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Froward69 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 01:53 PM
Response to Reply #1
20. Agreed.
... Not forced into accepting "long term health care", Hospice or leaving massive amounts of debt to their children.
no living without one another.


Peaceful.
we should all be so lucky.
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Dulcinea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-15-09 07:21 AM
Response to Reply #1
48. Eventually we will all die from something.
They're lucky that they got to choose how to make their final exit. I hope I get to make that choice when my time comes.

Nothing terrifies me more that a long, slow decline that I can't stop while I wait for the inevitable. My MIL wasted away in a nursing home for several years before she finally died last year. No thanks!
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Ohio Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 09:44 AM
Response to Original message
2. RIP - nt
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Gator_Matt Donating Member (186 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 09:49 AM
Response to Original message
3. As horrible as death may be, dying together would bring some comfort
The thought of separation from someone after so many years is gut-wrenching. This allowed them to remain together to the end. Depressing, but presumably more comforting for them to die together. I definitely empathize.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 09:59 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Depending on one's beliefs, dying together could be a joyous thing.
Death itself need not be horrible, though some forms of dying certainly are. Many people, especially those who have strived to live in self-awareness and in harmony with their world, see death either as a natural event or as a portal to a greater mystery. As a result their reactions tend to occupy the range from acceptance to anticipation, rather than the other end of the spectrum from terror to grudging inevitability.

We in the West tend to view death with horror, because we see ourselves as separate from nature, but also because our emphasis on living from the ego gives full emotional rein to the ego's primal fear of annihilation.

Congratulations to Edward and Joan for a reasoned, brave and compassionate decision.
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AlbertCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 10:21 AM
Response to Reply #4
10. We in the West tend to view death with horror,
Edited on Tue Jul-14-09 10:26 AM by AlbertCat
This isn't a Western thing! Death most of the time is horrible. Accidents, diseases, pain, deterioration.... sudden or slow it can be gruesome and bloody and HORRIBLE! Death is viewed with fear because, though DEATH is natural and, well, you have no choice....DYING can be a bitch. This is universal. It is not some western "failing" to view death with horror!

Suicide in the West is viewed with horror. Suicide is viewed as a crime in the West because that damn god of Abraham said you couldn't do such a thing. That's the Western problem.

Having said that.... RIP Edward & Joan. If that was what they wanted, so be it. Their suffering is over.
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Taverner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 02:05 PM
Response to Reply #10
21. Death is the enemy. It will ALWAYS be the enemy.
RIP Edward And Joan - at least they went out happy

But death IS the enemy
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 04:27 PM
Response to Reply #21
28. It's hard to keep a positive outlook when the thing you define as an "enemy" always wins...
Much better to define it as a friend or at least as a neutral agency. You'll spend a lot more of your life happy that way.
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Taverner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 04:33 PM
Response to Reply #28
29. Not me - I will go kicking and screaming
Fuck death
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brentspeak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 04:54 PM
Response to Reply #28
31. It's hard to keep a positive outlook when one is dead
Edited on Tue Jul-14-09 04:56 PM by brentspeak
It's hard to do much of anything when one is dead. Therefore, the goal is to remain alive. I do understand, however, that living in a great deal of unendurable physical pain while terminally ill isn't exactly "living".
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eppur_se_muova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 05:33 PM
Response to Reply #21
33. Decay is the enemy, death is its final victory. nt
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marshall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 07:30 PM
Response to Reply #4
36. Many a widow in India has lovingly followed her husband in death by joining him on the funeral pyre
A ceremony of love and tradition. We may not understand it, but it is an old and accepted custom.
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katkat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-15-09 02:54 AM
Response to Reply #36
44. India - bad example
The Indian thing about women throwing themselves on their husband's funeral pyres undermines your example. Most of the time they had no choice. If they didn't do it voluntarily they were thrown on.
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Paladin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 10:02 AM
Response to Original message
5. An Honorable Finale. God Grant Them Both Peace. (n/t)
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fascisthunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 10:06 AM
Response to Original message
6. wow...
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katkat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 10:10 AM
Response to Original message
7. voluntary?
I have to say this creeps me out. I wonder how much pressure there was on either one by the other.
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 01:48 PM
Response to Reply #7
19. Not much, most likely; she had 'between weeks and months' to live
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23719250...

and I doubt a major conductor is the kind of person to be pushed into a decision he's not sure about.
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endarkenment Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 02:23 PM
Response to Reply #7
24. How about none?
You get back to me when the Swiss start throwing a screaming spouse onto the funeral pyre.
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katkat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-15-09 02:55 AM
Response to Reply #24
45. ignoring
You're ignoring psychological pressure.
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endarkenment Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-15-09 06:58 AM
Response to Reply #45
46. You are ignoring the facts in this particular event.
but do carry on.
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iris27 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-15-09 02:50 PM
Response to Reply #45
51. Uh...it was HER diagnosis of terminal cancer that sparked the decision.
Edited on Wed Jul-15-09 02:54 PM by iris27
He wasn't going anywhere anytime soon, but just had poor general quality of life and didn't want to go on living without her. I doubt there was psychological pressure on either side. My partner and I have both expressed similar wishes in the past when discussing hypothetical futures like this one, so their choice seems entirely reasonable to me.
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WriteDown Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 10:12 AM
Response to Original message
8. 74 is young. nt.
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prolesunited Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 10:27 AM
Response to Reply #8
12. But if you have cancer
and don't want to suffer, it may be enough.
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demigoddess Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 07:43 PM
Response to Reply #8
37. depends on your genes
my father died at 51, my dad at 64, a friend is dying at 63, another at 75, Most of my relatives never last beyond early eighties. 74 sounds like a good run to some of us.
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PassingFair Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 10:17 AM
Response to Original message
9. How sad.
But how civilized and loving.

I hope I never have to make a choice
like that, but I am glad that the
choice is available to those that do.

Poignant deaths for the family, but
they have the surety that it was how
their Mom and Dad WANTED IT.

Caractacus and Boudicca!

I'm sure they feel lucky to have
had them as parents!
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boobooday Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 10:24 AM
Response to Original message
11. Going together, peacefully
sounds better than suffering & dying one at a time. RIP
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madville Donating Member (743 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 10:33 AM
Response to Original message
13. That is an awesome way to go
I hope we have that option here in 40 years when I may need it, what a great way to go on your own terms. Much better than getting eaten alive by cancer while stoned on morphine in hospice care. I've always been in favor of people having the option to control their own destiny and this is the ultimate control over one's self. Hope it gets legalized here one day.
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crim son Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 10:33 AM
Response to Original message
14. Sad the way extraordinary lives end the way all lives do.
I'm glad they left together and with dignity.
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hunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 10:57 AM
Response to Original message
15. Give me enough drugs to be comfortable...
I'm not planning on dying anytime soon but I'll be sort of curious to see what dying a "natural" death is all about. My personal dignity can take a few hits.

But I don't want to die like my grandmothers -- they both had the cancers hacked or poisoned out of them at an accelerating rate until there wasn't enough left of them to continue living. That was a barbaric way to go.

Maybe my doctors will use maggots:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

That could be useful for keeping away some of my more annoying visitors:

"Wanna see something cool?

Boring person reading Scripture to me loses their lunch...

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Libertyfirst Donating Member (583 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 08:47 PM
Response to Reply #15
39. Best laugh I've had today. n/d
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NashVegas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-15-09 07:06 AM
Response to Reply #15
47. +1
Having control over everything just takes the fun out of it all, don't it?
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hamsterjill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 11:00 AM
Response to Original message
16. Still debating over this
I am still debating this one. But I do know one thing - I think it's a positive thing that it's available for people who choose it. And I think it's appropriate that they be quieried so that it's determined that they are of sound mind when the decision is made.

I'm just not sure whether I, myself, would ever make that choice. It would depend on how much pain, etc. there was, I'm sure.
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K8-EEE Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 11:11 AM
Response to Original message
17. I hate the way most of my elderly friends have been treated in their last years
The endless, awful hospitalization and "treatments" to people who are dying scare the beejezus out of me. We're all gonna die but they come after all your dignity, quality of life and money at the end -- the true "death tax" is what they do to people the last few years of their life.
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lumberjack_jeff Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 11:30 AM
Response to Original message
18. "Suicide clinic"
heh.
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Vidar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 02:15 PM
Response to Original message
22. Vaya con Dios.
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roguevalley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 02:17 PM
Response to Original message
23. awww. bless them. RIP.
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Blue_Tires Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 03:10 PM
Response to Original message
25. i'm totally in support of this...
as long as they aren't recycled and repackaged as a popular food:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbJTBBoDFH0&feature=rela...
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hedgehog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 05:08 PM
Response to Reply #25
32. That's what I was thinking of as well. There is a case to be made
that if part of the reasoning was to save money for the estate, it's not that far from Soylent Green. I can see people being offered money to die now rather than continue to burden the health care system.
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mamaleah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 06:51 PM
Response to Reply #32
35. That would be repulsive.
Offering people money to no longer be a burden would not come from a civilized society at all.
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enigmatic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 03:27 PM
Response to Original message
26. Safe Passage to both
RIP.
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frebrd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 03:36 PM
Response to Original message
27. I never realized the Swiss were quite so civilized.
Good for them!
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micraphone Donating Member (284 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 06:47 PM
Response to Reply #27
34. Amen to that...
Poll after poll here in New Zealand consistently show that fully 75% of our population (still) want legalised suicide. Hell, even a famous and well respected dying poli went back to Parliament one last time and pleaded for some form of dignified self determination.

The hypocrites all stood and applauded him and said what a great guy he was - but that's all. No review, nothing. They don't want to go near it.

It obviously takes huge guts to do your JOB - do what the PEOPLE want.
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Endangered Specie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 10:28 PM
Response to Reply #27
42. you do know they didn't have womens suffrage until the 70s?
yes, 1970s
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frebrd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-15-09 12:06 PM
Response to Reply #42
50. Yes, I am aware of that......
I guess that's why I'm surprised they're so civilized on this issue.
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xchrom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 04:49 PM
Response to Original message
30. Peace Be with their family and friends. nt
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Mari333 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 08:05 PM
Response to Original message
38. Birth and Death are not 2 different states..
Birth and death are not two different states, but they are different aspects of the same state.
good for them for knowing when it was time to stop using their bodies.
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iris27 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 09:03 PM
Response to Original message
40. That is exactly how I'd want to go. Take a pill or a shot, snuggle together and
fall asleep for the last time. Ought to be able to save enough for a one-way trip to Switzerland over the next 40-50 years...

Kudos to them and RIP.
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BreweryYardRat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 09:39 PM
Response to Original message
41. Quality of life trumps continued breathing, far as I'm concerned.
Good for them not wanting to hang on and suffer.
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Endangered Specie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-14-09 10:31 PM
Response to Original message
43. Since when did you need a clinic to off yourself?
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dugaresa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-15-09 08:53 AM
Response to Original message
49. First I support their decision to end their lives this way. Second
I think their kids names are really cool, taken from British history. They were apparently a pretty amazing couple.
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AzDar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-15-09 03:01 PM
Response to Original message
52. On their own terms... Beautiful!
O8)
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