Ninety-one-year-old lovebirds Nic and Trees Elderhorst kissed each other goodbye and, while still holding hands, died together in a rare double euthanasia, a Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reported last week.
The couple, who hailed from the town of Didam in the Netherlands, died on their own terms on June 4, their daughter told the paper.
“Dying together was their deepest wish,” she said.
Nic Elderhorst’s health had been on the decline since he suffered from a stroke five years ago, reported the Dutch paper. His wife, Trees, was diagnosed with dementia earlier this year.
To qualify for assisted suicide in the Netherlands, which in 2001 became the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia, doctors must deem a patient to be under “unbearable and hopeless suffering.”
Double euthanasia is thus a very rare occurrence, said Dick Bosscher of the Dutch Association of Voluntarily Life Ending, according to The Telegraph. “It is factually a coincidence when both people meet the demands for euthanasia at the same time.”
In the case of the Elderhorsts, the couple had to wait months before their applications were approved, according to local media.
“They gave each other a big kiss and passed away confidently holding hands,” their daughter recalled of the couple’s last moments.
The Elderhorsts had been married for 65 years.
Euthanasia accounts for 4.5 percent of all deaths in the Netherlands, according to an Associated Press report from earlier this month. The vast majority of people seeking assisted suicide were individuals who had serious illnesses or “health problems from old age, early-stage dementia or psychiatric problems or a combination” of these illnesses, the report said.