The wife of a Keremeos man who died March 2 with help from the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) program said she feels appreciation, peace and love.
During a candid interview with the Keremeos Review five days after Dan Laramie’s death and farewell party, Stef Laramie said knowing her husband’s dying wish is being fulfilled gives her great comfort.
“All Dan wanted in this later stage of his life was to teach people. Even with his death that’s what he wanted and he accomplished that. I’ve received so many wonderful messages from people thanking him and me and everyone involved for showing them there is as better way to die,” she said.
After years of health struggles related to diabetes and a number of amputations and infections, Dan and Stef were faced with the reality the 68-year-old was not going to recover.
He spent the majority of the last year in hospital, suffered a stroke, lost his right leg to amputation and had other parts of his body taken or infected by gangrene. The well-known local musician (K-Town, Corner Turtles, Lulu and The Lazy Boys) could no longer play guitar.
Not long ago his medical team told the couple they needed to start getting Dan’s affairs in order. As they were grappling to understand what that meant the team made it more clear that Dan was not going to live and laid out the possible ways he could die – none of them pleasant and all included a high level of pain.
The couple had conversations about the Medical Assistance in Dying program throughout his illness, but reached a decision just three weeks ago.
Dan then decided if he was going to go he was going to do it teaching and having one hell of a party.
It was standing room only at times during his fun and music filled party at a friend’s home in Keremeos. He drank, smoked cigars, ate, laughed, and musical buddies sang and played guitar. He received a certificate from his college, the Rhodes Wellness College, for his successful completion of life. His friend played Stairway to Heaven as the doctor injected the needles and about 50 of his friends and family applauded and cheered as he took his last breaths to celebrate a life well-lived, just as he wanted.
“It’s funny or odd, people keep sending me messages that they’re sorry for my loss, and I get where they are coming from, but I don’t feel loss. I know he’s not here with us in this life but he still very much feels here. His memory lives on with this wonderful thing he did and he’s touched the lives and hearts of so many people,” Stef said.
A story about Dan’s dying wish to change mind’s about the dying process and his farewell party was released Wednesday exclusively by Black Press. Since then the story has been shared thousands of times and comments from across B.C. have poured in many from people thanking the couple for showing them a better way.
“It feels great to know that people are really getting it. I am a firm believer in dying the way that you lived. Everything about Dan’s death was a reflection of who he was here. There was so much healing through that process for his family and for people who were there and I think for people who read it or saw it after,” she said.
Stef said she hopes to write a book or some sort of roadmap for others wanting to die a similar way.
“There was no roadmap when we decided this. We just talked and Dan had things he wanted and we all did the best we could to fulfill them and we got almost everything. I did forget the whopper, but I think that’s OK,” she said with a smile. “Not everyone will get a front page or a big splashy story so I want to do something to help those people make sure they’re able to fulfill their dying wishes, their way. Being present and really talking to each other, being honest with each other and talking about the hard things is really what got us through.”
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