For Amanda Simpson, New Zealand's historic vote to legalise euthanasia is bittersweet.
The Christchurch mother-of-two is a staunch supporter of assisted dying. But the referendum result came too late for her husband Richard, who died in agony last year.
A fit and healthy 47-year-old, he had a shock diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and his forecast of a year to live was slashed to a month. He spent his last days in such distress that his children were not there for his last moments.
"It could have been such a different experience," Simpson said. "It could have been more peaceful, surrounded by more family than he was.
"I can't help but think about his last few days and the fact that he's not here to be grateful that the referendum has gone through."
Simpson said she took heart from knowing that terminally ill New Zealanders would soon have the choice to avoid suffering in their final days.
"It's a great thing that others will get that chance to die on their own terms."
Preliminary results released yesterday showed that 65.2 per cent of New Zealanders voted to pass the End of Life Choice Act and 33.8 per cent voted against. That is an unassailable lead for the "yes" vote, even with 480,000 special votes still to be counted before a final result is announced next week.
It means New Zealand will next year become the seventh country to legalise voluntary euthanasia, reaffirming its status as a progressive country on social issues.
"What a great day to be a Kiwi," said Act party leader David Seymour, the End of Life Choice Act's sponsor, after the results were released.
"The country has decided to support compassion and choice," he said.
The option to request assisted dying will become available in November next year, allowing time for health and administrative systems to be updated and for a register of willing doctors to be drawn up.
Once in place, voluntary euthanasia will become available to terminally ill patients with six months to live, if they satisfy a series of safeguards checked off by two doctors.
Seymour yesterday paid tribute to Wellington lawyer Lecretia Seales, whose unsuccessful court challenge to get access to assisted dying in her last days inspired him to draft the End of Life Choice Act.
"I never met Lecretia and I really wish I had. To go to court with a cancer in your brain takes a steely determination that few of us have."
Seales' mother, Shirley, described the referendum result as a relief.
"Tears have been flowing down my face," she told the Weekend Herald.
"Lecretia would have been so happy that it's finally come to fruition ... she would have been so blown away that so many people have acknowledged her for the part she played."
After the results were announced, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that she voted "yes" in the euthanasia referendum and said her Government would progress the legislation in line with the will of the public.
Despite high-powered campaigns for and against legalisation during the election campaign, polls remained steady on around 60 to 70 per cent support, indicating that New Zealanders had made their minds up and felt the time had come for reform after two previous failed attempts.
The result rattled euthanasia opponents, who said the law change would be harmful to New Zealand's most vulnerable people. They were not convinced by protections which prevented people from accessing euthanasia on the grounds of mental health, disability or age alone.
Advocates felt that even if they did not qualify for assisted dying, the law change fundamentally changed the way vulnerable people would be perceived in this country.
There are also concerns that the law's relatively narrow eligibility criteria could be broadened in future.
"I am pretty gutted," said disability advocate Dr John Fox, who has a painful neuromuscular condition called spastic hemiplegia.
"This is a shameful misordering of priorities and has changed New Zealand's moral and social fabric in a permanent way."
He said advocates would now redouble their efforts to ensure lives were not put at risk by the legislation, and that palliative and pain relief services were adequate.
"This debate is not over," he said. "We are determined that the vulnerable will not pay for our country's collective brain fade."
Asked for his message to those who were fearful of a law change, Seymour said: "I can assure people this bill is watertight. If anything it may be a little too rigorous.
"The evidence around the world is that there is nothing to fear."