The family of Tony Nicklinson, who died last week, say he had 'given up' after losing his right-to-die court battle.
The 58-year-old, who suffered from locked-in syndrome, was left paralysed by a catastrophic stroke while on a business trip to Athens in 2005.
His death, from pneumonia, came a week after he lost his landmark legal case for the right to end his life with medical help.
"He was devastated, he was heartbroken," said his widow Jane Nicklinson.
"He had raised his hopes so high, he couldn't understand how anyone could refuse him.
"We always knew the chances of winning - we had a chance but it probably wasn't good.
"He said even though he knew that deep down, his emotions just took over."
Speaking from the family home in Melksham, Wiltshire, she described her husband as "the kindest most caring person you could ever meet".
The family has been inundated with cards and letters of support, and said they hoped that the legal debate would continue, adding the right-to-die issue "needs to be addressed".
Mrs Nicklinson added that her husband had developed a chest infection in the days following the court ruling, and he "saw his chance and took it", refusing to take antibiotics which could have saved his life.
"He said to me the fight had just gone out of him. He said he just couldn't take it anymore.
"The doctor said it was a really bad chest infection, he said he needed to go on antibiotics and if he didn't take antibiotics that would probably be the end.
"I said [to Tony] are you sure? He knew exactly what he was doing," she said.
Mr Nicklinson died at home with his wife and sister and two daughters Beth and Lauren at his side.
His funeral will be a celebration of his life with friends and family.
His daughter Lauren added: "We sensed that the time was coming really quickly so we stood by him and we held his hand and we spoke to him.
"Once he went he just looked so peaceful. It looked like the first time in seven years that he wasn't hurting anymore."