‘He taught us how to die, but also how to live’: Quebec author’s wife reflects on MAiD decision

How to Die with MAID

Quebec author and educator Simon Roy woke up with a smile on Oct. 15, 2022.

He was ready to die with MAID

After Chinese food with his wife Marianne Marquis-Gravel and a glass of wine he could no longer enjoy or experience taste due to chemotherapy treatments for brain cancer, Roy listened to Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” and began the medical assistance in dying (MAiD) process .

With his wife and two children at his side, Simon Roy took his last breath.


“I was on his heart, so I heard his heart stop beating,” Marquis-Gravel told CTV News three days after Roy died. “It was a beautiful way of dying for him.”

How to Die With Maid


Marquis-Gravel said the MAiD process was the perfect way for her partner to die, and she has no regrets about the process.

Roy received the devastating diagnosis around 20 months ago, and the family watched as he lived through the painful and very real effects of the disease.

Last year Roy was hospitalized after he suffered an epileptic crisis.

Marquis-Gravel said he grew paranoid, lost the ability to speak and walk, and grew angry and frustrated with the family. It was then that the writer and teacher began thinking about medically assisted death as an option.

“When he came back, he came back as himself, [and] he didn’t want to die like this,” she said. “He didn’t want to die without language, without being himself, so he chose to prepare all of the things before.”

She said the family was lucky, as they made the decision early and were able to say and do everything they wanted to do together for the past 20 months, while the disease took more and more of the man they knew.

“I wanted that for him because he was not happy in the last weeks,” said Marquis-Gravel. “I could see that he didn’t want to live. I understood his decision, respected his decision, because I saw him suffering.”


She said he never regretted the decision to end his life with assistance.

“It was not a life for him,” said Marquis-Gravel. “When he took the decision, he never looked back; he was very ready. On the morning, he woke smiling because he wanted that.”

Roy posted on his Facebook page a message about his diagnosis and left a final note on Oct. 12 recounting the books that his wife read him four hours a day throughout the summer.

“Maybe this is what has kept me alive and on my toes until now,” he wrote.

Roy wanted to survive for two final events.

He wanted to celebrate his wife’s birthday on Oct. 13 and the release of her book “Dans la lumière de notre ignorance” before saying goodbye.

She said the couple went to Quebec City two days before his death for one last vacation on her birthday. She could see her husband struggle, but she also saw how he would never give up trying to make those around him happy.

“I knew that he was suffering for me, to offer me that moment,” she said. “He was someone very, very generous. The most generous person that I’ve met in my life.”

Simon Roy celebrated his wife, Marianne Marquis-Gravel’s birthday two days before he decided to have a medical assisted death. SOURCE: Marianne Marquis-Gravel.


Marquis-Gravel knows that if Roy had waited, it would likely fall on the spouse to decide when to take him off life support.

She said having Roy make the decision gave peace to the family.

“When you are suffering, you know when you are ready, it’s a process,” she said. “The people who asked for the medical assistance in dying are at peace with the decision. I didn’t want to make the decision for Simon. I’m happy that he decided for himself.”

A recent COVID-19 positive test means Marquis-Gravel has been exceptionally alone while remembering her husband in silence. She said it has been hard but peaceful reflecting on the man he was.

She said he was a “project guy” that “couldn’t wake up in the morning without something to do.” His books even caught the eye of Premier Francois Legault, who promoted his “Fait Par Un Autre” in one of the premier’s book club picks.

In the end, she said, he remained the impressive person he always was.

“The last day of his life, he was a teacher,” said Marquis-Gravel. “He taught us how to die, but also how to live.” 

Marianne Marquis-Gravel and Simon Roy shared many moments together including the last one on Oct. 15, 2022 when he received medical assistance in dying. SOURCE: Marianne Marquis-Gravel


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