Tue, Jul 10, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Peace at last: Frank Fu Da-ren’s parting gift

Right-to-die advocates say assisted death leaves a positive impact on families

By Julianna Lai  /  Contributing reporter

Because Fu documented his journey with daily Facebook updates and high-profile media appearances, his family had no choice but to endure the public scrutiny.

“We were all so irritated and angry with the endless articles and posts,” Lee says. “We couldn’t understand why he couldn’t just go quietly and peacefully. People at church would beg him to stop attracting so much attention because it was like he was promoting death.”

Lee, like Fu, is Christian, and had always struggled with the concept of assisted suicide. But the more hoops Lee witnessed the Fu family jumping through, the more he saw the necessity for a right-to-die law.

In the last few years of his life, doctors close to the family would offer Fu medications privately to put him out of his suffering, Lee says. But Fu was adamant on using his celebrity and media expertise to advocate for the right-to-die.

Recognizing the power he wielded, Fu was still on his phone posting status updates as he sat on the sofa waiting for the 25 minutes between the first and second doses to pass, despite being criticized for being overly dramatic and receiving Facebook comments such as “why don’t you die already.”

A ‘GOOD DEATH’

The simply decorated bedroom where the legendary anchor died was the picture of order and tranquility — a departure from the chaos that Fu’s family had grown accustomed to for years. As Lee left the Dignitas house with the rest of the family, he was consumed with an overwhelming feeling of peace.

The most valuable realization for Lee came a week after he returned home from Switzerland. For the first time in years, Lee saw Fu’s wife and son relaxed and smiling.

“My godfather’s death brought new life to them, and I thank [him] for making such a decision,” Lee says.

It may be some time before other families are offered the same relief. Before assisted death is legalized, Huang says people must understand that a “good death” ensures that both the patient and the family are cared for.

“Our level of death literacy is nowhere near reaching that understanding,” he says. “It’s like asking a kindergartner to apply for college. The skyscraper might be physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia, but we have to make sure our foundation is stable first.”

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