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It's Been One Year Since Vermont Made History

One year ago today, Vermont made history. May 20, 2013, was the day Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill to make Vermont the third state in the US with a Death with Dignity law—the first law of its kind on the East Coast, and the first passed through the legislative process. I was honored to be among the crowd which gathered to witness the bill signing ceremony. What a day!

It was a day full of emotion and elation. Some folks at the ceremony were facing serious illnesses and were relieved to know they'd have more options if their prognoses became terminal. People who'd carefully considered what's best for themselves their entire lives simply wanted more control over their final days. Each person I talked to recognized that what might be the best decision for one person may not be what others would choose, but one truth prevailed: all individuals should be able to make that decision for themselves.

Read more: It's Been One Year Since Vermont Made History

Bridging the Hospice Gap

Mark Dimor

Mark Dimor founded The BioContinuum Group, Inc. (BCG) with the mission to develop healthcare advertising, marketing, medical education, and strategic planning for clients. Four years ago in response to a personal tragedy he began writing, advocating, and speaking about end-of-life, palliative care, caregiving, and hospice. His goal: find meaning to these events. What he discovered was an unmet need. He's applying his 30+ years of marketing, communications, learning, and strategic expertise to these topics to educate and convince others of its value.

"The important thing is that when you come to understand something, you act on it, no matter how small that act is. Eventually it will take you where you need to go." Sister Helen Prejean

Read more: Bridging the Hospice Gap

This Week in the Movement

Touched cartoon by CG Herndon

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

Engaging Allies and Learning the Issue

The Organizing Cycle care of COPA

Three states have laws permitting Death with Dignity: Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Two have positive court decisions determining physicians cannot be prosecuted for prescribing medications to hasten death under certain narrow circumstances: Montana and New Mexico (under appeal). But if you live in another state and you want to help enact a Death with Dignity law, what steps can you take? This is the second in a series of five blog posts about early organizing efforts you can undertake to help pave the way for passing a law in your state.

In the first, I focused on the important first step of talking to your friends, neighbors, and family members about Death with Dignity and end-of-life care policy reform.

One of the interesting things about talking to your colleagues with intent about death and dying issues is you will find strong support in areas you did not even know existed. One political organizer told me she thought our supporters were as dedicated as the most dedicated volunteers in politics (teachers and firefighters are the most dedicated, in case you're curious).

Read more: Engaging Allies and Learning the Issue

Lessons Learned from Being a Caregiver for My Grandma

Irina's grandmother, Grunya

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.

My paternal grandmother, Grunya, had a stroke which paralyzed the left half of her body when she was 59 years old. She spent her entire life living in a village in the far east area of Russia raising her own chickens, milking her own cows, and planting her own fruits and vegetables. After her stroke, she had to leave her rural life behind and move in with us.

We lived in Khabarovsk, a big city by Amur River on the east side of Russia. I was 10 years old. In Russia, it's expected children take care of their aging parents and not place them in any kind of assisted living facilities.

I became my mother's helper: helping feed my grandma, get her around, make her bed, do her laundry and monitor her medications. My grandma lived with us for 5 years until she died at the age of 64.

Read more: Lessons Learned from Being a Caregiver for My Grandma

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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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