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.

Why I Advocate for Death with Dignity

When I was growing up in Boone, Iowa, death and dying were a matter of fact in my family. My mother was a hospice nurse, and when we gathered around the dinner table, conversations about death were common.

But I wouldn't face death on a deep, personal level until much later. In 1989, I graduated from college and met John. By the time we got married two years later, John had been diagnosed with HIV. Nearly everyone with the virus died badly back then, and my husband’s immediate response was, "I don't want to die that way."

It was then that I truly understood how important it is for a dying person to be able to decide how they die. As his health declined, John wanted to be in control of his own medical care, including how he died. He'd been in charge of his life; all he wanted was to be in charge of it until the very end.

Time and again, I've seen people join the Death with Dignity movement because of a personal experience like mine. Will you share your story with me? What inspired you to get involved with our cause? What does Death with Dignity mean to you?

Read more: Why I Advocate for Death with Dignity

The Gifts Dying Can Give


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


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 →


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

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 →


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


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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