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.

Why Won't You Let Me Go?

Brian Smith lives in Oakland, California. His family's farm is in Stockton. This article was originally published on Medium and is republished with permission.

Dad was confused.

He was taking a combination of drugs that were keeping him alive and reducing his pain. His morphine dose was quite high.

The fact that he had even made it to 78 years old was amazing considering he survived California's polio crisis of the 1940s. But now it was coming back. Post-Polio Syndrome weakens muscles that were previously affected by the polio infection. This brilliant man was atrophying both mentally and physically before our eyes. Eventually, he would not be able to breathe. And there was no cure.

"When do we go?" he asked us. "Where are the other attorneys? This is an important deposition."

He was on a kind of mental auto-pilot, reliving 45 years of familiar work stress—not the way anyone wants to experience his final days.

"There are no more depositions," my wife explained in soothing tones. "Your job is done. You were one of California's finest lawyers and you helped build a respected firm in the Central Valley. You should be very proud of your legacy."

"Why won't you let me go?" he said with tears welling up in his eyes.

That cut straight to the issue at hand.

Read more: Why Won't You Let Me Go?

Let's Talk

The Tombstone

Christi R. Suzanne is a web and communications professional in health care and higher education. She writes in her spare time and is currently working on a novel where dying well is one of its themes. Follow her on Twitter: @christirsuzanne.

I've been obsessed with four things my entire life: writing, reading, traveling, and dying. The first "book" I ever wrote was called The Tombstone. I hadn't come up with my pen name yet. I was in fourth grade and wrote it on one of my mother's notepads. I even illustrated it. The story is about a mother and daughter. One day, when the child is older and living in America the mother moves into a cave in an unnamed country. Pretty soon the reader realizes that the mother is sick, deathly ill and that she isn't going to live much longer. In the end, her daughter picks exactly three flowers and places them on top of her mother. She watches her die peacefully.

Even then, I imagined a whole story based around a way to control how you die and choosing who to have next to your deathbed. Most of all, I hoped death would be a peaceful experience.

Read more: Let's Talk

Intimate Conversations about Love and Loss

Encountering the Edge by Karen Kaplan

Karen Kaplan is an ordained rabbi and served as a hospice chaplain for seven years. Learn more about Encountering the Edge and read book excerpts on the publisher's site or Amazon. You can also see Karen's own blog, Offbeat Compassion.

Death with Dignity National Center's Melissa Barber asked me as I prepared this post, "Why did you write this book?" This is something every author should keep in mind throughout the writing process. It implies, among many other things, that a solidly cogent answer must precede the genesis of any worthwhile book.

While writing my hospice chaplain memoir, I kept in mind how the author of Ecclesiastes admonished his son: "Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh." And I was acutely conscious of needing abundant justification for writing Encountering the Edge: What People Told Me Before They Died.

Melissa's question is also an excellent tool for self-reflection. It's one thing to explain what a reader might get out of it, and quite another for authors to delve into the spiritual reasons underlying their endeavors. (The psychological reason is yet another dimension, and this is dealt with in the book.) I'll now endeavor to take on both challenges.

Read more: Intimate Conversations about Love and Loss

Facing Death Together

Brant Huddleston

After 17 years working for IBM, Brant Huddleston left the corporate world and became an entrepreneur. He's recently started the Dance to Death Afterlife podcast to learn, with his listeners, about death and dying in an upbeat and educational way. You can follow the podcast on Twitter: @D2DAfterlife or Facebook.

Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday....and all is well.

The last time I saw my brother was on a boat in the middle of the Severn River near Annapolis, Maryland. It was summer, and the family had gathered to spread his ashes. John died in April 1992 at age 39, just three weeks after the death of my father. It was a hard year.

Read more: Facing Death Together

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

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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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