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.

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

Demystifying Death for a Child

Stacey and her family at Race for the Cure

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.

Three years ago, the idea of choosing death over life was a completely foreign concept to me. And then my 85-year old grandmother had a massive stroke on the day of my son's 9th birthday party.

Within 12 hours, I was on a plane to Texas and not long after I was in the ICU holding her hand. She was lucid but completely paralyzed on one side. She tried to talk but she was hard to understand. She was irritated to be stuck in a bed and didn't seem to understand half her body wasn't working. She would pump her leg and arm as if she were running to prove she did indeed have body control.

With the combination of her spunk, the support of her family gathered around her bedside and the excellent care she was receiving in the hospital, we all thought—assumed—she'd recover.

Then, she failed her swallow test. And we watched her lose her will to live.

Read more: Demystifying Death for a Child

Dealing with the Digital Remains of the Dead

Digital Remains

Damien McCallig is a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Law, National University of Ireland, Galway and an Irish Research Council postgraduate scholar. His research, titled The Law of Digital Remains: Reconciling the dignity and interests of the deceased with those of the living, aims to provide a theoretical, philosophical and practical framework for developing an appropriate regulatory regime for digital remains aimed at reconciling the rights and interests of the deceased with those of living stake-holders. Follow him on Twitter at @DamienMcC_dli.

What happens to email accounts, social network profiles and other digital remains after the account holder dies? As people's lives become even more entwined with digital media, access to and control over the digital accounts and related content of deceased persons has taken on greater significance.

Some of these accounts may have economic value depending on their use, the status of the account holder while alive, or the type of account in question. For example, players of massive multiplayer online games can amass significant digital assets through virtual property or virtual currency, which often are traded for monetary value offline.

Read more: Dealing with the Digital Remains of the Dead

8 Things I Learned From My Brother Before He Died

Laura Saltman and her brother, Jason

Laura Saltman is a Host/Correspondent/TV Expert with over 14 years in the entertainment business. She has appeared on TV programs all over the dial including Access Hollywood, CNN's Showbiz Tonight, E's Chelsea Lately, CNN's The Joy Behar Show and TV Guide's Idol Chat and Fashion Team among others.

Her post originally appeared on her Access Hollywood blog, Dish of Salt.

While much of the world was mourning the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy on Friday, I was mourning the loss of my brother, Jason, who died at age 47 from stomach cancer.

They died 50 years apart on the exact same day.

While one was a beloved world leader and public figure and the other a private young man, they shared one major thing in common—that they wanted to make our world a better place. Even as a kid in his schoolwork my brother quoted JFK's "Nation of Immigrants" speech. My heart is broken at the loss of my brother but along the way he has taught me so much.

The things he learned in his life sometimes people never learn in their entire lifetimes. I'd like to believe his time on this earth was cut short not because cancer came knocking at his door but because he had learned everything we as human beings are meant to learn in this realm. I know wherever he is, he is going to continue his work healing the environment.

Read more: 8 Things I Learned From My Brother Before He Died

We All Deserve a Right to Choice

Penny Shelfer

A message from Penny:

I remember reading about the Death With Dignity movement at some point before my diagnosis.

I began working as a fitter for a mastectomy boutique in October of 2008, two months after my own mastectomy, which was caused by the stage III breast cancer found in my left breast and many lymph nodes in the left auxilla. Working in a position that would allow me to directly support other women and families affected by breast cancer came naturally to me, and also took the focus off of myself.

While working there, I'd met so many women who were devastated not just by the disease itself, but also the physical damage caused by sometimes numerous surgeries and radiation. When a person's diagnosed with cancer, in many cases the first word associated in one's mind is Death. Prolonged and pain filled.

I began researching the Death With Dignity Acts in Oregon and Washington because, like many of the ladies who voiced their fears to me, I do not want to die in agony and have my family witness such a death. Through my research I discovered the documentary How to Die in Oregon and after shedding tears of relief that Death with Dignity is a viable and legal option in some states, a huge weight was lifted from my soul.

Read more: We All Deserve a Right to Choice

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