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Together For Five Decades, Dutch Couple Euthanised In Their 70s

Netherland's couple who had been together since kindergarten underwent euthanasia on June 7. In a painful admission, the couple said, "There is no other solution."

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Rudrani Gupta
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Image Credit: BBC/Two days before the couple died

Image Credit: BBC/Two days before the couple died

If you had the option of euthanasia, would you ever go for it? Does life become too painful and useless to live after a point of time? For Jan and Els, it did. Netherland's couple who had been together since kindergarten underwent euthanasia on June 7. The only reason the elderly couple gave was, "There is no other option." They felt that their life had become too painful and not suitable for the current times. So they willingly together euthanised themselves. 

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As per reports, Jan and Els were in love with being mobile. So they never really had a proper house. Sometimes they lived on a boat or motorhome. In the older times when Jan was younger, he was a hockey player in the Netherlands’ national youth team and later became a coach. Els, on the other hand, was a teacher.

After some time, Jan and Els began a business of transporting goods to the Netherlands’ inland waterways with the cargo ships they bought.

However, life was slowly becoming rude to them. Jan had developed a back ache which was not letting him work. In fact, he even underwent surgery and took a lot of medicines but nothing helped. Gradually, Els started developing symptoms of dementia. It became worse later as she was not ready to accept it. 

When the couple opted for euthanasia

So the couple in their 70s decided to file for euthanasia or duo euthanasia. They had one son who was married and had children.  

When asked by BBC whether they would like to live if they can stay in their campervan indefinitely? 

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Els retired, “No, no, no – I cannot see it."

While Jan said, "I’ve lived my life, I don’t want pain anymore. The life we’ve lived, we’re getting old [for it]" Jan and Els talked about the pain their son will suffer and Jan said, “You don’t want to let your parents die. So there have been tears - our son said, ‘Better times will come, better weather’ - but not for me.”

But, the couple said, "There is no other option."

The day before and after euthanasia

The day before being euthanised, Jan and Els had a family dinner. They talked, played and had a walk outside. The couple's son told BBC, "I remember we were having dinner in the evening, and I got tears in my eyes just watching us all having that final dinner together.”  

The next day, the day of the couple's euthanasia, everyone gathered at the hospice. Friends, family and relatives. For two hours, they recalled memories and listened to music. However, when the final hour came, everyone was numb. 

The couple's son said, “The final half hour was difficult. The doctors arrived and everything happened quickly - they follow their routine, and then it’s just a matter of minutes.”

Euthanasia opted by couples in the Netherlands is called duo euthanasia. It is legal in the Netherlands but very rare. To qualify for euthanasia, two doctors check whether the conditions of the people opting for it were "unbearable". 

Netherlands euthanasia duo euthanasia
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