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.

A Social Worker's Role at End of Life

Kevin Kozin, MTS, LICSW

Kevin Kozin, MTS, LICSW, is a clinical social worker and therapist and formerly worked as a hospice social worker. He's currently a board member of the National Association of Social Workers in Massachusetts and serves as the Chair of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee. He works with adolescents, adults, couples, and families through psychotherapy and grief counseling, which lead to healing results.

The New England Journal of Medicine published an article this April titled, "Implementing a Death with Dignity Program at a Comprehensive Cancer Center". This well-written article takes a candid look at the demographics and experience of a particular cancer center in Washington state, where the Death with Dignity Act has been in effect since March, 2009. Death with Dignity refers to the Washington and Oregon statutes which allow individuals who have six months or fewer to live (as determined by two physicians) and have the capacity to make medical decisions the option to request prescribed medication which allows for a peaceful and painless death.

Read more: A Social Worker's Role at End of Life

Ensure Your Long-Term Support with a Bequest

Dee, Death with Dignity supporter since 2001

Dee has supported and advocated for clearly written and safe Death with Dignity laws since 2001.

I watched my mother, father, and two brothers die slow, horrible deaths. I've included the Death with Dignity National Center in my estate plans because I want to ensure future generations won't have to suffer like my loved ones did.

My way of advocating for Death with Dignity is to help ensure the Death with Dignity National Center's long-term financial strength. A wonderful way to accomplish this is to do what I've done and include them in your estate plans. In doing so you'll leave a legacy of dignity to future generations.

Two of the most common ways are bequests and planned gifts. It's never too late to plan ahead, and tax time is a good annual reminder to look at one's estate plans. It's very easy to include Death with Dignity National Center in your bequest; here's some sample language to use:

I give, devise, and bequeath to the Death with Dignity National Center, 520 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 1220, Portland, Oregon 97204, EIN #: 93-1162366, ______% of my estate or the sum of $____________ (or describe stocks, bonds, life insurance, or other assets) to be used for the general purpose of defending and promoting Death with Dignity laws throughout the United States.

Read more: Ensure Your Long-Term Support with a Bequest

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

A Tale of Two Directives

Kathy Kastner's Mom

Kathy Kastner is just a regular gal who found herself pondering her own anxieties about dying, wanting to learn more about the process of dying, and seeking more knowledge about her end-of-life options. She knew she wasn't alone in this thirst for knowledge about what's often considered a taboo subject, and started BestEndings to serve as a portal of information and resources about end-of-life care.

My mom died 30 years ago. 

I hadn't given much thought about the decisions which were made before her death until I began my own journey of exploration into life's end which became BestEndings.

I found my mother's end—which started years before she actually died—creeping into my conscious. As the youngest of four, I had no part in the decision process when it came to her last months. And until a recent conversation with my older sister, I was absolutely positive my mother's advance directive was, "I want to be kept alive at all costs."

Read more: A Tale of Two Directives

Memories of Governor Booth Gardner

Gov. Booth Gardner & Nancy Niedzielski, election night

Nancy Niedzielski worked tirelessly along side Governor Booth Gardner in Washington to advocate for the state's Death with Dignity Act. Voters approved the law in 2008 by a margin of 59% to 41%. Her efforts were documented in the groundbreaking documentary How to Die in Oregon which was honored at film festivals all over the world and nominated for an Emmy Award.

"Booth Who?" That campaign slogan in 1985 for an unknown Booth Gardner running for Washington State's Governor no longer fit the man I met in 2008 during efforts to pass the Death with Dignity Law. He was now well known, having accomplished much in his two terms as Governor. His dedication to health care provided Washingtonians with a Basic Health Plan. That started efforts for a Healthcare Plan at the federal level accomplished several Presidents later. Governor Gardner's dedication to the environment provided Washingtonians with a Growth Management Act. His dedication to education funded programs that lowered class sizes. His death last week ended a remarkable life of a humble man who treated others with respect, no matter how different their backgrounds were compared to his from inherited wealth.

Read more: Memories of Governor Booth Gardner

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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, 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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