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.

The Gifts Dying Can Give

Sunset

This guest post is from Barbara Karnes. Read our open call for guest posts →

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Barbara Karnes is award-winning end-of-life educator and nurse who has been instrumental in creating the patient/family educational booklet for hospice. A former hospice nurse, director, and consultant, Barbara is the author of the booklets A Time to Live: Living with a Life Threatening Illness; Gone From My Sight: The Dying Experience; The Eleventh Hour: A Caring Guideline for the Hours to Minutes before Death; My Friend I Care: The Grief Experience; the book The Final Act of Living: Reflections of a Long Time Hospice Nurse and a family-oriented DVD/booklet kit New Rules For End of Life Care. She blogs at Something to Think About where a version of this post originally appeared.

What beauty, strength, or gifts can death bring?

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and in our society today death is often not seen as beautiful or as a peaceful exit from a life well lived. We have medicalized death, demonized it and made it something to be feared. What we expect is what we will perceive so we see through the eyes of our fear.

Read more: The Gifts Dying Can Give

Sharing Death with Dignity Stories

We have long asked members of our community to tell us why they support Death with Dignity. The most common thread running through the responses is that people are in favor of Death with Dignity because of a heartbreaking personal experience. Over the past few months, as half of state legislatures considered Death with Dignity bills, we've received an unprecedented number of stories from people all around the country.

Today on this blog we begin a new series, underscoring, in our supporters' words, the reasons for Death with Dignity to become a legal end-of-life option everywhere. We present the stories you're about to read in raw form edited only for clarity and length. Because of next week's hearing on SB 128 - California End of Life Option Act in the Assembly Committee on Health, we begin with stories from the Golden State, many of which express support for the pending legislation. And though none of the stories reference the upcoming Independence Day, the spirit that we associate with the holiday, of personal liberty, individual self-determination and decision-making, and freedom from outside interference, is palpable.

Read more: Sharing Death with Dignity Stories

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

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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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