When I Killed My Father, John Byrne Barry’s assisted-suicide family thriller, is fiction, but inspired and informed by his family’s experience with his mother, who died at 95 after ten years of falling deeper into dementia.
“If I’m honest with myself,” Barry says, “I have to admit there were times during that period when I wished she would die. She had become a shadow of the vibrant woman she had been, and we wished we could spare her the worst.”
Barry’s family — his mother’s five children and their spouses — communicated well and handled their real-life challenges with a minimum of conflict. It would not have made for a compelling story. His mother never asked anyone to end her life.
But what if she had, Barry wondered.
When I Killed My Father follows psychologist Lamar Rose, whose father is suffering from cancer and dementia, and has asked his son to help him die. Lamar refuses, but his father keeps asking, and he relents. Then, at his father’s memorial, from the pulpit of the church, Lamar’s sister accuses him of murder.
The author will read from his novel, talk about what he learned while researching and writing the book, and lead a brief conversation about the challenges and unexpected rewards that come with the end of life. Such as:
- How do we initiate end-of-life conversations?
- What happens when families can’t agree about health care decisions?
- How do we respond when loved ones say they want to die?
- How do we treat dementia patients with kindness — reality therapy or compassionate fibbing?
See more at johnbyrnebarry.com