Legal suicide Couple fed up with life dies by assisted suicide

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They had no regrets, no unfinished business

play Spilled pills. A couple 'assisted' each other to commit suicide (Courtesy )

On the last morning of their lives, Charlie and Francie Emerick held hands. The Portland, Ore., couple, married for 66 years and both terminally ill, died together in their bed after taking lethal doses of medication obtained under the state’s law.

Francie, 88, went first, within 15 minutes, a testament to the state of her badly weakened heart. Charlie, 87, a respected ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician, died an hour later, ending a long struggle that included prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease diagnosed in 2012.

“They had no regrets, no unfinished business,” said Sher Safran, 62, one of the pair’s three grown daughters. “It felt like their time, and it meant so much to know they were together.”

play Charlie and Francie Emerick rest after a family croquet game at daughter Jerilyn’s home in Portland (TIME)


When their illnesses worsened, they were grateful to have the option, family members said. “That had always been their intention,’’ said daughter Jerilyn Marler, 66, who was the couple’s primary caretaker in recent years.

“If there was a way they could manage their own deaths, they would do it.”

They allowed Safran and her husband, Rob, to document and film their conversations and preparations right up to their deaths.

play A still image from Sher and Rob Safran's documentary about Sher's parents, Charlie and Francie Emerick of Portland (TIME)

Change mentality

It was supposed to be a remembrance only for the family, but they ultimately decided to have the clips edited into a film that could be shared outside of the immediate family.

Their goal was “to help people change the way they think about dying,” says Safran, allowing others to share in the mostly private and sometimes clandestine moments leading up to assisted suicide.

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