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.

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

Brittany Maynard: In Her Own Words

Rest in Peace Brittany Maynard
Image care of ET Online

Brittany Maynard, the heroic young woman who shared her decision to request prescribed medication allowed under Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, has died. All of us at the Death with Dignity National Center would like to express our deepest condolences to her family through this very difficult time.

Read more: Brittany Maynard: In Her Own Words

Brittany's Decision is Hers Alone

In recent days, there has been a fair amount of confusion around Brittany Maynard's statement that she might not hasten her death tomorrow as she mentioned in a video in early October. In her latest public statement, she expressed what many other Oregonians who grappled with whether or when to ingest the medication when she stated, "I still feel good enough and I still have enough joy and I still laugh and smile with my family and friends enough that it doesn't seem like the right time right now."

For 12 years, I was executive director of Compassion & Choices of Oregon; an organization dedicated to providing nonjudgmental information on end-of-life options. I worked with terminally ill people all over Oregon to help them navigate the request process for the medication allowed under Oregon's Death with Dignity Act.

Read more: Brittany's Decision is Hers Alone

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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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