“It’s a kind of medical will.” This is how Francis Sellier, now 71 years old, describes “advance directives”. This document contains what caregivers and loved ones need to know about the care they wish or not to receive in the event of an accident or other health problem putting their life at risk; requests that he would not be able to enforce himself.

This approach, introduced into French law in 2005 and amended in 2016, could see its status evolve within the framework of the bill on “assisted dying” soon to be debated by parliamentarians. During the presentation of this project in March 2024, Emmanuel Macron announced that he had written his own advance directives.

Francis Sellier tells us that he wrote his own four years earlier, following the viewing of a report on the end of life, and because a member of his entourage suffered from Charcot’s disease. “I see his condition deteriorating,” confides Francis Sellier. And this contributes to his defending a reinforced status of advance declarations, so that they become “opposable and binding” for doctors “who could refuse to apply them for philosophical reasons”.

Currently in France, the law does not allow euthanasia or “assisted suicide. The upcoming bill potentially provides for the conditions of “assisted dying” under strictly regulated conditions. This could be included in “advance directives”.

For the moment, this is not yet the case, but this text, there are online models, such as this one, allows you to indicate in advance different care choices that caregivers are supposed to apply if you are unable to do so.

This document, which can be revised, must be transmitted to those around you. “It’s no use if you keep it to yourself. I gave it to the person who shares my life, to two of my children and ideally, I should give it to my treating doctor,” indicates Francis Sellier. “They must agree to implement it,” he adds.

However, this is not always easy, and this approach can therefore give rise to delicate, but perhaps beneficial, discussions with loved ones. “There may be some reluctance when talking about this at first. You have to explain. We are simply expressing our will,” underlines the witness.

“I refuse any treatment that I consider too intrusive, including intubation. It seems that it is very painful,” explains Francis Sellier. “It is difficult to imagine the practical procedures of this or that medical procedure,” he adds. Writing your advance directives is therefore also an opportunity to question what you want or not. “For those who are writing this document, this may be a difficult moment”, so the Association for the Right to Die with Dignity (ADMD), of which Francis Sellier is now delegated in Marne, has set up “a listening service with trained staff”.

For his part, the volunteer takes things in perspective: “I feel good, not at all anxious. We know we have to die one day. We ask ourselves questions, we sort out our financial situation, we tell ourselves that it is better to anticipate, to talk about it as soon as possible. Death can be tamed!”