Guest Blogger

Many of the most successful blogs have an element in common: a diverse voice. Blogs partly came about, after all, from a desire for an interactive way to get information and to have a community of people participating in the discussions.

The Death with Dignity movement appeals to people from all walks of life, and we'd like your help in expanding our community. Interested in adding your voice to the Death with Dignity movement?

To have your piece considered for our blog, Living with Dying:

  • You must be a Death with Dignity National Center supporter.
  • Send your Death with Dignity-related article (700-1,000 words) to me via email.
  • Once your post is up, convince your friends and family to read it.

We look forward to reading your work.

Join National Healthcare Decisions Day...Because Your Decisions Matter

National Healthcare Decisions Day

Nathan Kottkamp is the founder and chair of National Healthcare Decisions Day.

Please help us make history, again. April 16, 2010, will be the third annual National Healthcare Decisions Day. The inaugural event, which was formally recognized by Congress and numerous state and local governments, included participation by 76 of the most prominent national healthcare, religious, and legal associations and organizations. By the second year, we over 700 local and state organizations throughout the country also participated. At every level, the goal of this nationwide initiative is to ensure that all adults with decision-making capacity in America have both the information and the opportunity to communicate and document their future healthcare decisions. The first year's results were impressive—over 750,000 people obtained resources to make their healthcare decisions known—but there remain millions of Americans to go.

Read more: Join National Healthcare Decisions Day...Because Your Decisions Matter

Demystifying Death: A Life Moment

Photo by Alex Dodd

Stacey Tinianov is a caffeine-powered working mama and shiny object follower, runner, suburban environmentalist, cyclist, breast cancer ass-kicker, and empowered patient advocate. Follow her on Twitter, @CoffeeMommy.

Several weeks ago, my almost 13-year old daughter sat in the backseat as I drove her to a sports activity. Frequently, as she nears her teen years, this drive time is spent in silent meditation (aka: ignoring Mom's questions about the day) but occasionally, we sing along together to the radio.

Without exception, my favorite days are the days she peppers me with questions that instigate an open dialogue.

"What do you think happens when you die?" she asked as if she were asking what we were having for dinner.

"What do you think happens?" I asked back immediately. The verbal sidestep is a typical mom move designed to create the opportunity to hear her untainted view as well as give myself time to think about my own answer.

She was patently unmoved by my attempt to deflect.

"I asked you your opinion," she deadpanned and we locked eyes in the rearview mirror.

"Well," I stammered thoughtfully, "I don't exactly know."

Read more: Demystifying Death: A Life Moment

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

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

Honor Your Loved Ones by Facing Your Fears and Pursuing Your Passions

Irina Jordan

Irina Jordan is the owner of Artisurn—online marketplace of handcrafted cremation urns, jewelry and keepsakes. Connector. Optimist. Avid reader.

I got the dreaded call in the middle of the night; my mom told me my brother was a victim of a burglary in his apartment. He was only 22 years old. Since then, I've been haunted by memories of him and our times together.

He was a headstrong and charismatic guy who knew how to persuade others—including me—to do what he wanted and believed in: good and bad. He would've made an excellent leader in any professional field.

Memories, both bitter and sweet, tend to sneak up on me at unexpected moments and leave me turning them over and over in my mind. I have a Russian artist's seascape painting from my brother's apartment hanging in my house and it's a constant and symbolic reminder of my own mortality. My brother lived his life to the fullest, and to honor it, I've been on a quest to face my fears and pursue my passions.

Read more: Honor Your Loved Ones by Facing Your Fears and Pursuing Your Passions

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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, 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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