General News · 23rd April 2017
A good death is hard to find. On the bright spring morning of Friday 21 April 2017, Marg Sullivan found hers. After a life in control of her own high-spirited adventures, an end-of-life staring at a wall in a hospital ward was not for her. Thankfully, rationally, humanely, the Supreme Court of Canada allowed her to regain control of a life being eroded by the crushing uncertainties of liver cancer.
Marg Sullivan (nee Palmer) was born in Flin Flon, Manitoba in 1934. This Hapnot High graduate married Clarence “Sully” Sullivan in 1955, and started on a life of raising kids in geological survey camps along the Alaska Highway, raising goats on a small farm in Alberta, and raising hell and spirits on Cortes Island.
Her final, well-planned days were a delight! Upon final approval for Medical Assistance in Death (MAiD), she turned to Michael (her son) and directed him to buy much chocolate. “Death by chocolate!” she boldly stated, and laughed and laughed. Sully brought her banana splits, sundaes…to hell with dietary restrictions. The CR nurses filed through her room, sharing stories and sampling exotic chocolate, “OMG, try those raspberry truffles!” We often had to close the hospital room door to avoid disturbing the ward with gales of laughter and loud stories. She died, quite literally, with a smile on her face after days of hilarious family legends and tales of high adventure.
To her many friends on Cortes and throughout the world, she hopes her death shows how a strong-willed woman can control her destiny. She is survived by her supportive, heartbroken, and at-peace husband Sully, her children Sharon and Michael, and her grandchildren Sierra and Ben. We thank the MAiD team of Island Health, and the wonderfully supportive medical care givers of Cortes and Campbell River.
Photo: "Marg Sullivan with her grandparents, father, and brother. Circa 1944"
Marg and Sully as proud parents and grandparents of Sierra, Ben, and Michael Sullivan
What a friend we had in Marg
Comment by Rev. Phil Zimmerman on 6th May 2017
I was privileged to share some life with Marg and Sully for awhile. Far too brief but enough.
Celebrating her remission from cancer a year ago and sharing her joy and lust for life this past year was a true gift. Marg showed us how to live with a terminal disease. While in pain Marg marched on to the drum beat only she knew and followed.
Toward her end, Marg was terribly brave and resolute. She faced her impending death with the same passion she lived her whole life with Sully, her children and grandchildren. Marg did few things halfway. We need to accept this of her at face value. My humble assessment, Marg was at peace with her world and her god.
I will treasure the hours we spent bedside in Campbell River Hospital, listening to her speak of the life she lived and the family she loved. This was hallowed ground my friends.
We prayed together to a loving god, as was her and my tradition. We celebrated last communion together. I anointed her forehead with holy oil. We said our last earthly good byes.
The following day Marg, surrounded by her loving family with the support of medical and ethical staff ended her earthly life. Beginning a whole new journey into the unknown and hereafter. Godspeed Marg!
We who morn are saddened but I assert, Marg is sailing on as her journey continues.
Comment by Joan and Hugh on 1st May 2017
Very sorry to hear of the passing of your Mom. Her actions and your words are very inspiring for such a difficult time. We hope you all have wealthy memory banks of happy times with her.
Comment by Carole Thacker on 29th April 2017
A lovely tribute. So privileged to know such a special Cortesian. Marg (and Sully) are cornerstones of what community is all about. Marg will be missed but I will think of her everytime I look at chocolate, see her art or sit at the lake.
May her spirit sustain all of you.
Keep wingin' it, Marg!
Comment by Nancy Beach on 26th April 2017
There is another side to the euthanasia story, & I don't take it lightly. But Marg didn't need to go to heaven to become an angel! Peace & Love to all!
A Good Death Indeed
Comment by Dave on 26th April 2017
Few words are needed, but some are fitting...profound, brave, indomitable, selfless, inspiring, compassionate.
Michael, my condolences to you and the family. I'm very happy to have known your mom. She's left a set of tracks on my trail.
Comment by George on 25th April 2017
I learned today of the passing of your mom and so my thoughts are with you in this moment. I didn’t know your mom, having only met her a few times, but knowing you I can only imagine the depth and strength of her character. The “death watch” we undertook leading up to my own mom’s passing not quite a year ago was nearly debilitating, so your mom’s journey is inspirational. To live boldly without fear is truly a gift to cherish. Thank you.
such a gift
Comment by Doone Kelly on 24th April 2017
for my family to have been part of Marg's Cortes family. She has been an inspiration.
Thank you Michael
Comment by Patricia L on 24th April 2017
This tribute to your mother Marg is beautifully written. Her contagious smile and cheerful outlook on life will be missed and now she is an example of (as you said) a beautiful death. She is a pioneer for a sea change in end-of-life options. And she had a wonderful son.
Comment by Carole Davidson on 24th April 2017
May your adventures continue.
Comment by Bob on 23rd April 2017
What beautiful Words. We'll have some chocolate tonight and think of Marg.