The couple’s children said in an interview with The London Evening Standard that on Tuesday of last week they accompanied their father, 85, and their mother, Joan, 74, on the flight from London to Zurich, where the Swiss group Dignitas helped arrange the suicides. On Friday, the children said, they watched, weeping, as their parents drank “a small quantity of clear liquid” before lying down on adjacent beds, holding hands. “Within a couple of minutes they were asleep, and died within 10 minutes,” Caractacus Downes, the couple’s 41-year-old son, said in the interview after his return to Britain. “They wanted to be next to each other when they died.”This is creating some controversy even among British supporters of assisted suicide because while Joan was dying of cancer, Sir Edward was not ill. To that I can only roll my eyes. He was 85, nearly deaf, going blind, and probably felt like he would rather end his life now than spend a few more years grieving for his wife. I find what he did very beautiful and loving, and I hope I can approach the end of my life with as much grace. I also hope my friends will be as supportive of me as Sir Edward's are of him:
Friends of Sir Edward said that his decision to die with his wife did not surprise them. “Ted was completely rational,” said Richard Wigley, the general manager of the BBC Philharmonic. “So I can well imagine him, being so rational, saying, ‘It’s been great, so let’s end our lives together.’ ”I believe we are given life to live it well and fully, not to stretch it out to the greatest number of days no matter how much pain we are in or how little we have to look forward to.
Jonathan Groves, Sir Edward’s manager, called their decision “typically brave and courageous.”