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Russian Funerals: Black Bread and Vodka

Funeral for Mikhail Kalashnikov

Irina Jordan was born and raised in Russia and moved to the US when she was 22 years old. She's the owner of Artisurn—online marketplace of handcrafted cremation urns, jewelry and keepsakes. Connector. Optimist. Avid reader.

If you caught some of the funeral coverage of the famous Russian weapons designer Mikhail Kalashnikov, you may have wondered how funerals in Russia might be different from those in your country. There are quite a few similarities but also some unique differences thanks to Russia's rich historical heritage and culture interlaced with superstitions.

During the time of the Soviet Union (1917-1991), state funerals of the most senior political and military leaders were staged as massive events with millions of mourners all over the USSR. The ceremonies held after the deaths of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and other General Secretaries followed the same process. They took place in Moscow where they began with a public viewing of the deceased in the House of the Unions and ended with an interment at the Red Square.

Read more: Russian Funerals: Black Bread and Vodka

This Week in the Movement

25 documents you need before you die

Throughout the week, we keep people up-to-date about the Death with Dignity movement and other topics related to end-of-life care through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Below are highlights from the last couple weeks.

Efforts regarding Death with Dignity:

Read more: This Week in the Movement

CT Lawmakers Hear Support for Death with Dignity

Attorney General George Jepsen, photo by Hugh McQuaid

Connecticut lawmakers heard public testimony about a Death with Dignity bill before the joint Public Health Committee yesterday. Dozens of people—residents of the state, Connecticut officials, and lawmakers from nearby Vermont—showed up at the State House and over 400 people submitted written statements to share their thoughts about House Bill 5326.

Julie Dimmock, a retired nurse, shared her experience caring for people who were dying. From her testimony reported in the Norwich Bulletin:

Sometimes hospice is able to control people's pain; other times they are not able to. When a person is deemed terminal with no chance of recovery, then I believe that person has the right to die as he wishes. It is not up to the medical profession to prolong the painful, imminent death of a patient. Who gave the doctor the right to choose what he wants, not what the patient wants? Supporting HB 5326 is the right thing to do.

Read more: CT Lawmakers Hear Support for Death with Dignity

This Week in the Movement

Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland, photo by Bob Child

Throughout the week, we keep people up-to-date about the Death with Dignity movement and other topics related to end-of-life care through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Below are highlights from the last week.

Efforts regarding Death with Dignity:

  • Surgeon and author Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland died at his home in Hamden, CT due to prostate cancer. Dr. Nuland wrote the award-winning book How We Die to draw back the curtain to show the realities of death. An advocate of Death with Dignity laws, he wrote, "The final disease that nature inflicts on us will determine the atmosphere in which we take our leave of life, but our own choices should be allowed, insofar as possible, to be the decisive factor in the manner of our going."
  • Quinnipiac University released a poll which found 61% of Connecticut voters would support a Death with Dignity law in their state.
  • In his Indianapolis Monthly op-ed, Phil Gulley asked our nation to "extend me one more freedom, one more inalienable right—the privilege of ending my life when the sun of hope has set."
  • Elizabeth Jenkins-Donahue, a homecare nurse who knows the benefits of palliative care can't relieve the suffering of all patients, appealed to Connecticut lawmakers to give people more end-of-life options as would be allowed under a Death with Dignity law.

Read more: This Week in the Movement

Dying to Give Back to the Earth

Greensprings is located in New York's Finger Lakes region

Hunter Marshall is a hospice nurse, advocate for the right of Death with Dignity, and environmental activist from the Pacific Northwest. This article was originally published on Waging Nonviolence and appears here courtesy of a Creative Commons license.

I met with Jean shortly after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. As I approached her home for the first time, I was greeted by voluminous blue barrels at the bases of the gutters collecting rainwater from a passing storm. An attached hose snaked outwards towards a garden burgeoning into spring. She welcomed me inside with a warm smile that offset the cool air in her minimally-heated home. As a visiting nurse, I actively observe patients' homes with an eye towards safety and functionality. Jean's home, outside and in, was a testament to the more than 50 years she spent as an environmental activist.

Displaying a subtle yet undeniable eccentricity so common in activists, she served sparkling cider in champagne glasses while we discussed her end-of-life arrangements. Unsurprisingly, she wanted to die just as she had lived: green. So after a life of environmental stewardship, she was met with the daunting task of choosing how to most sustainably return her body to the earth.

Read more: Dying to Give Back to the Earth

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Defend dignity. Take action.

You are the key to ensuring well-crafted Death with Dignity laws for all Americans. With your financial and volunteer help, the Death with Dignity National Center, a 501(c)(3), non-partisan, non-profit organization, has been the leading advocate in the death with dignity movement. Member contributions helped us pass a new Death with Dignity law in Washington, defend the Oregon law, and provide education and outreach programs for the vitality of the death with dignity movement.

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