trond sailing

Trond at the helm off Nova Scotia coast

“Do you still want to die?” the kind hospice nurse asked Trond gently as she, he and I sat together in the den during one of her short, infrequent Covid-era visits toward the end.

“I don’t want to live.” Trond answered at once, in a rare burst of clarity during those last terrible months of his dementia. And it’s a damned good thing he said that, for reasons I’m about to explain.

Just a few weeks before, our dear daughter Nora and I were sitting in our living room to keep Trond company. Suddenly we found ourselves deep in a conversation that changed all our lives and still seems miraculous to me. Thank God for miracles!

By that point in his dementia, Trond was trying to put his shoes on backwards, forgetting where to pee, and sometimes getting pretty snippy. He talked obsessively about a trip he thought we were going to take, wondering if it hadn’t been canceled and where on earth his tickets were. He asked if I was coming with him. (I wondered later if it was the trip to heaven he was anticipating, and I now think so.)

Other than that, he wasn’t talking much. As he had heartbreakingly told me when we’d sat by the red sand beach on Prince Edward Island four summers before, “I am losing my fucking mind.” Now it was all but gone.

But that August afternoon, Trond returned for about half an hour. The calm, clearheaded man we had known and loved remembered something very important. I don’t recall now whether I gingerly brought it up or if he boldly did. It could even have been Nora, since, unbeknownst to me, I learned that day that he had years ago told her of his plan.

But it doesn’t matter who remembered first. What matters is that Trond remembered and, to our amazement, mustered the grim determination to do what he had long ago said he wanted to do: To take his own life rather than to vegetate in a nursing home with no recourse but to live in misery until his heart gave out. His great Viking spirit would have none of it!

The plan had been to shoot himself before it came to that, and he had bought not one but two guns. For as he had told Nora but not me, he had purchased a second gun in case something went wrong with firing the first one. No question Trond was a planner! There was only one problem, and it was a big one.

A year earlier when we moved to California to be near the kids for support, Trond’s guns — and everything else that didn’t fit tidily (and legally) into a few suitcases that flew with us, or in the back of a small car we shipped across country — were still on the farm. And as it turns out, we never went back there before (or since) Trond died. So what were the options?

Trond apparently understood that and had devised Plan B. He would take his life by stopping eating and drinking. Thoughtful of others as always, my dear husband asked us on that fateful day if Plan B would be okay with us. He seemed particularly concerned that Nora approve, which she immediately did. She knew as well as I did how terribly unhappy Trond was in his increasingly demented state.

Thus began the most hellish month of my life, and certainly of his.

To be continued…

About the Author: Suzanne Grenager

A seasoned writer and mentor with a gift for helping people see and be their most authentic, empowered Self.

13 Comments

  1. Jim Dreaver June 27, 2023 at 6:03 pm - Reply

    A gripping “story” indeed, Suzanne….
    Am looking forward to part 2!

    • Suzanne Grenager June 28, 2023 at 1:10 pm - Reply

      I appreciate that, dear Jim. It will be coming in about 10 days and should complete the story of a brave good death.

  2. Shalom Ormsby June 27, 2023 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    This is such a powerful story that you share here. And given the fact that death — of our loved ones, and also of ourselves — is something that of course we all will have to ultimately face, that this will be supportive for everyone who reads it. I know it is for me, as I pause to reflect on my own mortality and death. Aware that my days are numbered, I pause to being more presence to the present moment, to this breath, to the gift of being alive (for now). Thank you for the profound gift of sharing your experience in this most challenging journey of letting go of your beloved Trond.

    • Suzanne Grenager June 28, 2023 at 1:13 pm - Reply

      You are most welcome, dear Shalom. And the way you live your life is an inspiration to all of us who know and love you.

  3. Dee Holland-Vogt June 27, 2023 at 8:00 pm - Reply

    No words, Suzanne. Only compassion and gratitude. <3

    • Suzanne Grenager June 28, 2023 at 1:09 pm - Reply

      Thank you, dear Dee, for your compassion and gratitude. They mean a lot to me!

  4. franjohns June 27, 2023 at 10:19 pm - Reply

    Blessings on your generous heart for sharing this. I’m grateful for our having met through End of Life Choices CA. Dementia is the hardest condition of all, since the CA Law stipulates one must be mentally competent, but Trond’s determination, and moments of lucidity, saw him through. So once more: blessings on his Viking heart and your own heartfull of grace.

    • Suzanne Grenager June 28, 2023 at 1:06 pm - Reply

      Thank you, dear Fran, for this beautiful comment and for your tireless work on behalf of conscious death.

  5. Tina June 28, 2023 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    I felt awkward making a public comment about your poignant post about Trond’s decision. It was incredibly poignant and yet, not surprising for me. My memory of Trond is one of a man of strength, integrity, deep love of family and clarity. For him to have lost his mental faculties and not been able to be the keystone of the family would have naturally prompted such a dramatic and final decision. I can’t quite imagine what it must have been for you, Teg and Nora. My deepest condolences to you and my sincerest congratulations to Trond’s spirit for being the true man of honor that he was. Much love to you and yours ALWAYS!

    • Suzanne Grenager June 29, 2023 at 1:02 pm - Reply

      I deeply appreciate your lovely tribute to Trond, dear Tina. He was indeed a man of honor and I am touched that you saw and appreciated that!

  6. Carolyn M Lazar June 28, 2023 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    I remember this time in your lives very clearly and what comes next. My heart went out to you then and it does now that you choose to remember how difficult it all was. Dear Suzanne, peace be with you. He made a choice and you and your family supported it. It was excruciatingly difficult. But it was his choice. You did the right thing. Much love from France.

    • Suzanne Grenager June 29, 2023 at 12:58 pm - Reply

      Yes, thank you for your sweet acknowledgment and love. It was time to complete our story, difficult as it was for me.

  7. Mary July 19, 2023 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    Hi Dear Sue, I just read your blog post. It’s one of your best. I hope many people read it because it is so clear and compassionate. Well done!

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