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Children's Grief Awareness Day

"Sad Child" by Anthony Kelly on flickr

Jennifer Marsh, LMFT, MS is the Community Education & Outreach Coordinator at The Center for Compassionate Care of The Elizabeth Hospice. She is a licensed Marriage, Family and Child Therapist, with a certification in Crisis and Trauma Intervention.

My first experience with death came at the age of 12. I remember the day as if it were yesterday, instead of 20+ years ago. I was in my classroom at school, balancing between two desks on my hands with my feet raised when the teacher came to get me. My mom was there, she said, and it was time for me to get my things and go home. I walked out of that classroom with a horrible feeling in my stomach I just couldn't put into words—and it deepened the moment I caught a glimpse of my mom. She had obviously been crying and looked as if someone had just knocked her over. All she could manage to say was, "It's Grandpa. He's gone."

I was old enough to know gone meant he had died. He'd suffered multiple strokes over the past few months and the last time I saw my Grandpa, he was in a facility with all sorts of tubes coming out from all over the place. Gone meant he wasn't there, in that bed, anymore. Gone meant we'd never see him again. What I wasn't prepared for, however, was how this one experience would impact how I coped with grief throughout my life.

Read more: Children's Grief Awareness Day

This Week in the Movement

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

Efforts regarding Death with Dignity:

Read more: This Week in the Movement

Massachusetts Voters Deny Rights to Terminally-Ill People

Massachusetts Question 2 election results: 49% (yes) to 51% (no)

Despite strong early support for Death with Dignity in Massachusetts the final vote tally didn't give more Americans another end-of-life option. In the end, the opponents' enormous smear campaign based on fear and misinformation won the day. But the foundation for support has been built, and we'll keep working to make sure voters in Massachusetts and other states get the facts they need for an open and honest debate about Death with Dignity.

Together, we've changed the entire conversation around end-of-life care policy reform. A little over a year ago, many people in Massachusetts and throughout New England started hearing about Death with Dignity laws for the first time, and since that time, the need for these carefully crafted laws has been a hot topic on television programs, news publications, blogs, editorial columns, and countless letters to editors.

Read more: Massachusetts Voters Deny Rights to Terminally-Ill People

It's too close to call

Despite strong early support for Death with Dignity in Massachusetts the final vote tally is too close to call right now. Support is still strong, and however this election turns out, it'll continue to grow as more people learn the truth about Death with Dignity.

When Oregon voters first approved of the first groundbreaking Death with Dignity in 1994, it was also too close to call. The final result was 51.3% to 48.7%. Not since Washingtonians approved their state's Death with Dignity law in 2008 has another state come so close to passing the next Death with Dignity Act by ballot initiative. The recent efforts in Massachusetts have directly changed the national conversation around death, dying, and assisted death, and that is a huge step forward for our entire movement.

Everyone deserves to decide how to live the rest of their lives when death is near. We'll continue to move forward as people throughout the US join their voices together to demand more end-of-life options. The Death with Dignity National Center will stand with them, just as we did this year in Massachusetts, in Washington in 2008, and 18 years ago in Oregon.

Keep checking here, Twitter, or Facebook for the latest news about Massachusetts.

Read more: It's too close to call

This Week in the Movement

Editorial Cartoon by Dan Wasserman of the Boston Globe

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

Efforts regarding Death with Dignity:

  • Newspaper endorsements for Death with Dignity rolled in this week.
    • The Patriot Ledger and the Enterprise: "We would also say that this is less about choosing to end one's life, that, unfortunately has already been determined by disease, and much more about choosing to end one's suffering."
    • Daily Hampshire Gazette: "People laboring through an extended and painful death should not have to suffer because we as a culture are uncomfortable with death."
    • The MetroWest Daily News: "The question before voters on Tuesday is whether everyone, whatever their agony and whatever their wishes, must be forced to die on the schedule their disease has set."
    • The Newburyport News: "The law contains safeguards against abuse...we do not see reason to be concerned about misuse."
    • Bay Windows: "Death with Dignity is a personal choice and we deserve to have a fair and meaningful dialogue, not a smear campaign loaded with scare tactics and funded by radical anti-gay, anti-choice hate groups."
    • The Berkshire Eagle: "The law is not being abused and the Massachusetts proposal is in many ways stronger. "

Read more: This Week in the Movement

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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, nonprofit organization, has been the leading advocate in the Death with Dignity movement. Individual contributions helped us pass new Death with Dignity laws in Washington and Vermont, defend the Oregon law, and provide education and outreach programs for the vitality of the Death with Dignity movement.

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