Ever since they first were married, Charlie and Francie Emerick hoped they would never have to be separated. They feared nothing more than one of them having to live on after the death of the other. Luckily, they lived without having to face that reality for sixty-six years together as a married couple. Eventually, they both were diagnosed with terminal illnesses and decided to take death upon their own terms.
Together, hand-in-hand, the Emericks took lethal doses of euthanasia drugs so they could exit this world together.
The Emericks died together in April 2017 while holding hands using medication made legal under the Death and Dignity Act. This state law allowed the Portland, Oregon couple and other terminally ill adults the chance to request a medically induced death. In other words, they can request assisted suicide.
Both spouses were in their late-80s. Francie, 88, had battled heart disease for years and suffering several heart attacks. Charlie, 87, was also battling heart disease as well as prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
At the end of their lives, their health was failing them. And they did not want to pass on in pain and suffering – if they had the choice. And the state of Oregon had given them that choice.
Two different doctors each claimed that Francie and Charlie both had fewer than six months to live. With this requirement met, the couple was allowed to request the euthanasia drugs.
It has been about a year since the elderly couple died. And their three adult daughters have worked to create a 45-minute documentary to capture the benefits of assisted suicide and show their parents’ last moments. In the video, you see the couple, who are still very much in love, talking about good memories and holding hands as they swallow the euthanasia drugs to end their lives.
Francie died within minutes of taking the drug. Charlie lasted for another hour.
“They were each other‘s best friend,” their eldest daughter Jerilyn Marler told Daily Mail Online. “In their last years, Dad was Mom’s eyes, and Mom was Dad’s ears. It was natural for them to want to die together. Their choice was much easier for me than to see them suffer through their final months.”
The couple met when they were freshmen at York College. They married during their senior year. Nine months, almost to the day, of their wedding night, Francie gave birth to Jerilyn.
During his career, Charlie was a Navy doctor who worked in San Diego and Bremerton, Washington.
The family moved to Central India for a while starting in 1964, so Charlie could work with local hospitals as an ear, nose and throat doctor. And Francie used her communication skills in public relations and marketing.
They eventually moved to Portland, Oregon in 1972. Charlie served as the chief of ENT at Kaiser Permanente in Portland until his retirement in 1990.
When Oregon passed the Death with Dignity Act in 1997, Charlie and Francie were big supporters.
“They have always supported [this movement] even before Oregon made it legal,” Jerilyn said. “They never wanted to have a lingering, painful, agonizing death.”