“We Are Dead, Gone, and Free”: The End of a Frontier Couple
Aerial drone photo of Lisianski strait in Southeast Alaska in summer with clouds

Artist Eric Bealer was living the remote, rugged good life in coastal Alaska with his wife, Pam, an MS sufferer, when they made a dramatic decision: to exit this world together, leaving behind precise instructions for whoever entered their cabin first.

She did not wish to see her disease through; Eric did not plan to live without his wife.

Pam nursed her mother through a long, slow death from cancer. The day after her mother passed away, friends persuaded her to get out of the house, try to have some fun. While she was out, she met Eric.

The way we die is changing. So, too, is the way we think about dying—and about the opportunity, even the right, to die at a time and place of our choosing.

We weigh risks and consequences, and there’s an acknowledgment at least of the possibility of death. A friend who helped the Bealers prepare their wills later told the troopers that he believed he was doing so because the couple wanted to be prepared for the risks inherent in their lifestyle. After all, he figured, they could have died any time they steered their skiff through the wild offshore waters to reach their cabin.

Read more in Outside Magazine.

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