I cannot imagine desiring death, and I cannot imagine assisting a loved one in death. But I also cannot imagine living damn close to half a century with a debilitating disease.
And yet medical science allows us to take baby steps in these decisions.
When my beloved father's cancer surgery resulted in complications, and 3 months of hospitalization, (rather than the expected night or two in the hospital) my mom and I decided to bring him home after the three months, and not pursue additional, aggressive treatment. Complex health problems unrelated to the cancer made it unlikely that he would respond well to additional surgeries, and he probably was too weak to survive chemo. Instead, he spent his last days of life in his home, surrounded by family, watching his favorite movies, discussing politics, (often a bit incoherently) and even enjoying a cocktail a day or two before he slipped out of consciousness.
Aggressive efforts might have kept him alive a couple more months, in pain and discomfort, in an institution. It was hard. Initially, my father had said that he wanted to be kept alive, at any cost. After months in the hospital, he said he wanted to go home.
My family's decision was acceptable by commonly acknowledged ethical standards. I know we made the right decision, and I will always value that last week together.
I wish this man could find comfort as he contemplates the end of his wife's life. I wish that society could have offered her the power to make decisions that would not have put her poor husband on trial.