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Death with Dignity was Booth Gardner and Blair Butterworth's legacy

Christian Sinderman

Christian Sinderman is a political consultant based in Seattle, Washington who's worked on campaigns for former Gov. Chris Gregoire, Gov. Jay Inslee and other transportation and education measures. This article originally appeared in the Seattle Times, and it's republished with permission.

Last month, Washington lost two important, provocative voices. Former Gov. Booth Gardner, a public figure and master of the understatement, succumbed to a decadelong battle with Parkinson's disease. Democratic strategist Blair Butterworth, a behind-the-scenes figure and master of bombast lost a tragic battle with cancer.

Each sought different paths to make a lasting mark on our political landscape. Booth served as governor for two terms; Blair helped elect two governors. Booth quietly shaped public opinion; Blair launched expletive-laden rants to bend political will. They united in 2008 to seek passage of Initiative 1000, which codified Washington's Death With Dignity Act.

Both men passed within weeks of one another, almost four years to the date of the law taking effect. Blair used the law they fought to pass.

Read more: Death with Dignity was Booth Gardner and Blair Butterworth's legacy

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

Standing at the Precipice of Monumental Change

On the precipice; photo by Steve A Johnson on Flickr

There's no question: losing an election is painful. Looking around the room on election night at the dejected volunteers and staff members who had invested hours of time and energy in the Massachusetts Dignity 2012 campaign, I knew there would be a necessary re-building and healing time.

As an individual who's looked up to for leadership in our movement, I had to quickly recover from my own disappointments and act like the role model I'm viewed as. Easier said than done, I learned.

I read a book about struggling at work, and I was reminded struggles are the result of taking a chance, of doing something new and different outside of one's comfort zone. I spent some time reading leadership advice from sports greats, and hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said it most clearly, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take."

The recovery was slow, but the most difficult part has passed. When I look at the activity all over the nation, I know the loss in Massachusetts marked the precipice of monumental change for the movement. We're involved in active campaigns all over New England. Groundbreaking Death with Dignity policy reform is underway in Vermont; New Jersey is considering a referendum to put Death with Dignity on the ballot for voters to decide. Connecticut is making a serious legislative attempt at policy reform, as is Massachusetts. Groups are organizing in Maine for a ballot initiative.

Change is on the horizon.

Read more: Standing at the Precipice of Monumental Change

Taking on End-of-Life Decisions as a Family

An artist's interpretation of the River Styx

This blog post is the first in a series of guest posts by Arashi about end-of-life care planning and documentation in honor of National Healthcare Decisions Day.

Both of my parents had careers that brought them close to the larger issues of life and death. My mother spent her entire career as a nurse, specializing in the treatment of cancer. My father was a police officer who worked his way up to become a homicide detective. Through these two careers, they both experienced the extreme fragility of life.

My mother, in particular, would tell me stories of many nights where she held a patient's hand as the person died. She'd half-jokingly refer to herself as a servant on the River Styx, the river in Greek mythology that formed the boundary between Earth and the underworld.

There was one incident that left a deep impression on her. She was working a late night in the cancer ward taking care of a woman who was losing her battle. She had been fighting for months. Her family was almost constantly at her bedside, urging her to be strong, to pull through. My mother could see the patient herself was clearly exhausted, but her family wouldn't give up the fight.

Read more: Taking on End-of-Life Decisions as a Family

This Week in the Movement

"Twinkies, Rest In Peeps" care of The Washington Post

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

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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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