In 1996, George Delury was sentenced to four months in jail for assisting in the suicide of his wife, Myrna Lebov. In this book, Delury tells the story of his marriage, his wife's struggle with multiple sclerosis, her decision to end her life, his own role in helping her achieve this, and the subsequent legal and media ramifications that culminated in his indictment.


This memoir makes an interesting contribution to the ongoing ethical and legal debates about assisted suicide. Myrna was not strictly, at the time of her death, terminally ill, a factor which complicates the usual mitigation of assisted suicide or euthanasia as merely hastening an already-imminent death. Further, Delury believes that, as a family member rather than a physician, he was dealt with more harshly by the law than a doctor would have been.

There are points in the book where the reader might like to have greater access to the patient's own experience, most of which is strongly mediated by the author's voice, but as an account of the wider effects of progressive illness, especially of the harsh labor and terrible decisions such illness can demand of a patient's loved ones, this is a thought-provoking work.

An especially interesting aspect is the role of religion--Judaism--in the couple's responses to illness and death. This memoir would make a good companion to One True Thing, Anna Quindlen's novel exploring assisted suicide (see this database).


Birch Lane

Place Published

New York



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