Personal Stories

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In the Death with Dignity movement we all have experiences to share. These are our constituents' personal stories of courage, pain, joy, fear, sadness and hope.

To tell your story and help others understand why Death with Dignity laws are important please email Peter Korchnak.

Always remember: you are not alone.

Death with Dignity and People with Disabilities

Joan Tollifson portrait

This is a guest post by Joan Tollifson (the subheadings and links are ours). Read our open call for guest posts →

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Joan Tollifson is an author and teacher who was active in the disability rights movement and the independent living movement. She was a participant in the historic month-long 504 Occupation in 1977 of the San Francisco federal building for disability rights, worked at the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley, and has written numerous articles on disability, several of which have appeared these anthologies on disability: Staring Back, Voices from the Edge, and With the Power of Each Breath. Disability was also a major theme in her first book, Bare-Bones Meditation: Waking Up from the Story of My Life, a spiritual memoir. She is the author of four books on non-duality and meditation. She lives in Ashland, Oregon. Find her online at www.JoanTollifson.com.

Read more: Death with Dignity and People with Disabilities

Rage No More II: My Beautiful Right

Portrait of Kiki Denee

Death with Dignity as an issue extends well past the media and popular discourse alone. Increasingly, artists reach out to us with various projects. The poem below appeared on our Facebook page, posted by the author KiKi Denee. Read our open call for guest posts →

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When to decide
It was a good fight
And, it’s time
And, it’s ok.
Valiantly go into the unknown.

When to decide
To look forward
To walk on
March on
and surrender.
Resolutely journey into the unknown.
The Dark Night.

I’ve caught and sang the sun
in flight [i]
I’ve seized and danced the moon
at night.
I’ve grabbed and tasted the earth
when ripe.
I’ve burned and raved my life away.
A disgusting, dirty, dying cliché.

I welcome you, Beautiful Night.
I will Rage No More against
My Beautiful Right.

[i] Thomas, Dylan. (1951). "Do not go gentle into that good night."

Read more: Rage No More II: My Beautiful Right

A Report from Maine Death with Dignity Bill Hearing

This is a report from last Friday's Maine House Committee Hearing on LD1270 - An Act Regarding Patient Self-Directed Care at End-of-Life by our long-time supporter, Valerie Lovelace.

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Val is the executive director of the nonprofit It's My Death, which she founded to honor a promise to her sister Dee, dying of cancer, "to teach others how to be with dying, how to speak and listen to one another the way we had learned to speak and listen, and how to go on even when afraid." She is an inter-faith minister, ordained by calling, studying and practicing in the traditions of her elders and teachers, who are Native American, Christian, and Buddhist. She is a hospice volunteer, artist, and the parent of three adult children. She is also a homeopathic practitioner and a Reiki Master, retired from the U.S. Navy, and a trained EMT. She lives in Maine.

Maine’s Motto is "Dirigo" or "I Direct" or "I Lead" and its tagline "The Way Life Should Be." I'm proud of how hard my legislators work to ensure our laws are fair, straightforward, and seek to ensure as much freedom as possible. It’s a balancing act, for sure. What I love about the process is that at the end of the day, when a piece of legislation is enacted, it’s been hammered over to produce the best and safest possible piece of legislation.

Read more: A Report from Maine Death with Dignity Bill Hearing

What hospice volunteering has taught me

In response to our open call for guest posts we received a submission all the way from Hungary.

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Dóra Csikós is a hospice volunteer for Magyar Hospice Alapítvány (Hungarian Hospice Foundation), Hungary’s first hospice house, in Budapest. In 2013 she left the field of marketing communications and turned to end-of-life planning. She is the co-founder of the Életvégi Tervezés Alapítvány (End of Life Planning Foundation), which provides information about end-of-life issues from legacy planning and healthcare decisions to psychological and financial issues to burial services and digital legacy, and holds lectures for the public with experts in the above fields.

I started to volunteer in Budapest’s only hospice house more than a year ago because I wanted to give my time and attention to those who are living behind the walls of the taboo of dying and death. This hospice house is a small, ten-bed institution that is based completely on the classic hospice approach. Volunteers serve in pairs, in two 4-hour shifts daily in addition to nurses, doctors, psychologists, physical therapists, and other professional team-members.

Read more: What hospice volunteering has taught me

Farewell and Thank You

Melissa Barber, VT Gov Peter Shumlin, and George Eighmey at VT's bill signing ceremony

With mixed emotions, I'm leaving the Death with Dignity National Center at the end of this week. When I started at the National Center in 2010, I was charged with building an online community around death and dying—no easy feat considering most people avoid the subject as much as possible. But together, with the help of many of you long-time and new supporters, we've built a thriving and invigorating community around a difficult and often taboo subject. Thank you.

Communities, by their very nature, aren't one-person endeavors. They form over time as people with many different backgrounds and beliefs find commonality. Over the last four and a half years, I'm pleased to have engaged in online conversations with conservatives, liberals, atheists, believers, supporters and even opponents (or people who were once opponents). We haven't always agreed, and that's only made our community stronger. By sharing our different opinions, feelings, and beliefs we've made our own individual worlds larger and richer.

It's an exciting time for Death with Dignity. During my time here, I was privileged to be part of a near win in Massachusetts and work directly with Vermonters to see the over ten years of work come to fruition with the first Death with Dignity law on the east coast. The movement is on the cusp of a rapid acceleration of momentum, and several states are poised to move forward with laws of their own in the near future.

Read more: Farewell and Thank You

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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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