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An elderly woman is found dead by builders, in her favourite armchair, in
front of the television. As the police officers knock on her daughter’s front
door and inform her of her mother’s death, they take her inside and pull
out their notebooks to record what the anguished daughter is saying. ‘Has
Mum done something wrong?’ she asks, bewildered. ‘Have I?’

Elayn Gemmell killed herself secretly and suddenly, and it broke her family.

Once a successful model photographed by Max Dupain and Laurence Le Guay, Elayn Gemmell felt herself to be a left-behind older woman, facing a future of uncertainty and fear, invisible without her beauty or independence, and dealing with chronic pain and an addiction to painkillers. Her relationship with her daughter Nikki – herself a busy working woman with four children – was complicated, at times fraught and she hated to ‘be a bother’.

After examines in painfully honest detail a situation facing many elderly and chronically ill people around the world. Not given the legal choice to do what they really want to do, these people are compelled to make decisions alone, leaving behind a devastating legal and emotional disaster zone.

The shock of dealing with her mother’s euthanasia death was compounded when Nikki Gemmell was pulled into the police investigation that swiftly followed. She also discovered Elayn had been liaising with Philip Nitschke and had imported the illegal euthanasia drug Nembutal from Mexico. Perhaps Elayn thought her secrecy would legally and emotionally protect her children – but in fact her family struggled to cope. Nikki questioned every aspect of her own life and ultimately had a breakdown.
In After Nikki Gemmell questions her mother’s actions and asks if they should be celebrated as an act of empowerment and control, or condemned for the emotional havoc they wrecked across her stunned family. Was her death a final act of independence or an act of despair? After examines myriad issues around a highly contentious subject, and from a uniquely personal perspective.

A blazingly beautiful, profound and unflinching honest book.