Guest Blogger

The Death with Dignity movement appeals to people from all walks of life, and we'd like your help in expanding our community. Are you interested in adding your voice to the Death with Dignity movement? Consider publishing a guest post on our Living with Dying blog.

To have your piece considered for Living with Dying:

  • You must be a Death with Dignity National Center supporter (if you aren't, we'll sign you up).
  • Email us to discuss ideas and topics for your 600-900 word post. Include a brief bio.
  • Once your post is up, invite your friends and family to read it.

Please note that by submitting your guest blog post to us you

  1. grant Death with Dignity National Center (DDNC) permission to use your guest blog post, or any portions of it, on our blog and elsewhere in our communications or to not use it for any reason;
  2. certify that you have all the rights, power, and authority necessary to make the submission;
  3. agree to not hold DDNC responsible or liable for any use of your guest blog post;
  4. agree that any uses by DDNC of your guest blog post are made with no compensation to you;
  5. certify that the language and contents of your guest blog post are not plagiarized from any other source and do not libel or slander any other party and that you assume full responsibility for any damages resulting from any claims to the contrary; and
  6. understand that your email address will be added to our list to receive occasional updates.

We look forward to reading your work.

Expert Analysis of Advance Directives

"Ask DDNC" is a new column created to serve as a resource for you. Today, we'll focus on advance directives. We consulted Ann Jackson, MBA, for her advice. Ann Jackson is former director of the Oregon Hospice Association and now consults about end-of-life issues and options.

Every state has an official advance directive and is appropriate for all capable adults, regardless of health status at the time it's completed. Its purpose is to protect your right to refuse medical treatment you don't want, or request treatment you do want if or when you aren't able to make such decisions yourself.

Many people aren't aware that, without an advance directive, everything will be done to preserve life—even when it's not likely CPR or other life-sustaining treatments will be successful. In this column, I'll use Oregon's as an example. The Oregon advance directive is straightforward and relatively easy to complete. You can complete Part B, Part C, or both, depending on your advance-planning needs. You must complete Part D and your health care representative, if you appoint one, must complete Part E—Part D is for your signature and the signatures of your witnesses, and Part E is to be signed by your health care representative accepting the appointment.

Read more: Expert Analysis of Advance Directives

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

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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, 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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