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 send an email to Melissa.

Always remember: you are not alone.

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

This Week in the Movement

Brittany Maynard on the cover of People Magazine

Brittany Maynard, a courageous young woman dying from terminal brain cancer, captured the country's attention by publicly sharing her private decision to request medication allowed under Oregon's Death with Dignity Act. The outpouring of support for Brittany and the work we do toward Death with Dignity policy reform throughout the US has been incredible. No one should have to move to another state to have more end-of-life options. With your continued advocacy and support we'll keep working to make sure everyone, regardless of where they live, have the right to control the manner and timing of their own deaths.

Below are a handful of the dozens of media stories related to Brittany and our model legislation, the Oregon Death with Dignity Act:

Read more: This Week in the Movement

What Kind of Friend Are You?

Victoria Noe

Victoria Noe promised a dying friend that she'd write a book about people grieving their friends. That book became the Friend Grief series. Victoria will guest host our weekly #DWDchat on this topic this Thursday at 4:00pm PT/7:00pm ET. Join if you have time!

I've become obsessed of late with my prospect of my friends' deaths—or more accurately, their final illness.

Over lunch, over drinks, over the phone, I've asked them a loaded question: "Would you tell me if you were sick?" I'll tell you some of the answers in a moment. First, let me explain why I'm asking.

It's not just that most of my friends are also baby boomers. It's not just that we've all experienced the deaths of friends. It was the way two of my friends conducted themselves.

Carol's recurrence of breast cancer made an already very private person even more reclusive. She wouldn't allow any friends to see her, to visit her, in the hospital or at home. She would only talk to a select few on the phone. Why I was one of them, I still don't know, as we weren't the closest of friends. Maybe she knew I was willing to talk about anything and everything—except what she was going through.

Read more: What Kind of Friend Are 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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