Ueli Oswald offers a frank and deeply touching account of exactly this situation. His father, now in retirement, decides to end his life and seeks the help of an assisted dying organisation. Should the son support the old man or should he try to restrain him? How can he be sure that his father has really made up his mind once and for all? They grow closer as they make their decisions and face their fears at death’s door.
A truly thought-provoking book.
See Excerpt below
Today, you said it plainly: you have had enough. Not tired of life, just had enough. This is why you want to put an end to it, sooner rather than later. I know you – you won’t be deterred. When one has had enough, whether with life or with food, it is the same; one doesn’t want anymore. You will be ninety soon. I hope that you have, at least, enjoyed life.
I have known Father’s attitude to people deciding to die ever since his sister opted to take her own life when she was ninety. Then, when my mobile rang, I was lost in the vast asphalted desert of an American supermarket car park. Father’s voice was so spherically distorted that it sounded as if he was reading out a military bulletin. ‘Sudden heart failure’ he would have me believe. He dished up a story that was hard to credit and whose parts did not match up. It was our mother who, a few weeks later, enlightened us about the actual state of affairs. The half-truth was, in effect, one great big lie, and she was unwilling to leave it at that. Only then did Father talk to me and my brother Martin. Our aunt had departed this life helped by an assisted dying organisation. Father had stood by her, helping with the preparations and then held her hand when she accepted the potion from the ‘angel of death’. He made no secret of the fact that he saw this as an option for himself. Mother wanted to hear nothing about it. She had always vehemently rejected suicide and disapproved of Father’s intention ‘to cut and run’.
That was the answer to your problems even then, wasn’t it? The plan you had hatched with your favourite sister, should your lives not end the way you each wanted.
The following reviews were published in Swiss or German publications and have been translated into English.
The description of their father’s last hour, which the two sons spend with him and with the confidant from the assisted dying organisation, is touching, disturbing, and stays with the reader for a very long time. The visit by the police after the death is terrible, horrendous. The book Ausgang – Das letzte Jahr mit meinem Vater by Ueli Oswald becomes a work of literature. A book that has to be read.
The public honours the life of the ninety-year-old [Heinrich Oswald], while the son says farewell to his father with an impressive text.
Schweizer Illustrierte, 2019
The son documents the conflicts between him and his illustrious father with admirable candour, including their slow rapprochement. Ueli Oswald has added a beautiful page to the chapter ‘father & sons’. The option to be free to decide when the time is right to go appears as a liberating perspective. Our ever more geriatric society will have to face these problems.
Stuttgarter Nachrichten, 2019
Assisted dying has been a major issue in Swiss politics and legal agencies for a long time. Discussions, however, too often turn into squabbles over hospices. It is fortunate that, as Ueli Oswald documents the last year he spent with his father, we now have a very personal examination of the subject that goes far beyond standard surveys of the issue. In his book Ausgang (published by Edition Epoca), we learn not only about the difficult decisions that lead someone to opt for death but gain an extraordinary personal insight into the final chapter of a complicated father-son relationship.
Tagesanzeiger Magazin 34, 2009
There are various options to get hold of a copy of the book:
The book will also be available on Kindle, via Amazon.
Any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Title: EXIT — The last year with my father
Author: Ueli Oswald
Translator: Iris Hunter
Paperback, 144 pages, English, Perfect Publishers Ltd, 2021
14 x 21.6 x 1.3cm, 198g
Price: £9.60 (available at this price when ordering via email or the contact form below)