Personal Stories

Want to be the first to know when there's a new update here? Subscribe to this category's rss feed.

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.

Dying to Give Back to the Earth

Greensprings is located in New York's Finger Lakes region

Hunter Marshall is a hospice nurse, advocate for the right of Death with Dignity, and environmental activist from the Pacific Northwest. This article was originally published on Waging Nonviolence and appears here courtesy of a Creative Commons license.

I met with Jean shortly after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. As I approached her home for the first time, I was greeted by voluminous blue barrels at the bases of the gutters collecting rainwater from a passing storm. An attached hose snaked outwards towards a garden burgeoning into spring. She welcomed me inside with a warm smile that offset the cool air in her minimally-heated home. As a visiting nurse, I actively observe patients' homes with an eye towards safety and functionality. Jean's home, outside and in, was a testament to the more than 50 years she spent as an environmental activist.

Displaying a subtle yet undeniable eccentricity so common in activists, she served sparkling cider in champagne glasses while we discussed her end-of-life arrangements. Unsurprisingly, she wanted to die just as she had lived: green. So after a life of environmental stewardship, she was met with the daunting task of choosing how to most sustainably return her body to the earth.

Read more: Dying to Give Back to the Earth

Honor Your Loved Ones by Facing Your Fears and Pursuing Your Passions

Irina Jordan

Irina Jordan is the owner of Artisurn—online marketplace of handcrafted cremation urns, jewelry and keepsakes. Connector. Optimist. Avid reader.

I got the dreaded call in the middle of the night; my mom told me my brother was a victim of a burglary in his apartment. He was only 22 years old. Since then, I've been haunted by memories of him and our times together.

He was a headstrong and charismatic guy who knew how to persuade others—including me—to do what he wanted and believed in: good and bad. He would've made an excellent leader in any professional field.

Memories, both bitter and sweet, tend to sneak up on me at unexpected moments and leave me turning them over and over in my mind. I have a Russian artist's seascape painting from my brother's apartment hanging in my house and it's a constant and symbolic reminder of my own mortality. My brother lived his life to the fullest, and to honor it, I've been on a quest to face my fears and pursue my passions.

Read more: Honor Your Loved Ones by Facing Your Fears and Pursuing Your Passions

When Dementia Looms: What Can I Do Now to Ease Decision Making Later

The idea of the basic end-of-life conversation is to uncover and explore feelings and opinions about the difficult decisions that come along, preferably long before arriving at the end of one's life, and how you want others to participate in those decisions or even make them for you. There are plenty of standard forms which lead you through different end-of-life scenarios, with thought-provoking questions such as "if I am incapacitated and require mechanical ventilation to stay alive, I would want the doctors to..." and so on. It's my contention (and that of many others, of course) this process not only helps to clarify the decision making process and choices, but it also encourages thinking about the inevitable fact of death, and hopefully, helps break down emotional barriers which keep us from preparing for it.

But it suddenly occurred to me one day there's a whole separate set of decisions that must be made long before we develop the terminal illness that eventually requires end-of-life thinking. In some ways, these may seem even harder than some of the end-of-life decisions, since the subject of the decision is still present and may not consider it necessary for anyone else to decide for them.

Read more: When Dementia Looms: What Can I Do Now to Ease Decision Making Later

Public Displays of Cancer

Lisa Bonchek Adams' Twitter profile

There isn't much to add to the ongoing cultural conversation about Lisa Bonchek Adams, a woman with stage 4 breast cancer who is using Twitter and the blogosphere as a platform to tell her life's story, and Emma and Bill Keller, a wife and husband team of opinion columnists who publicly questioned the seriously ill woman's use of Twitter.

The story as it played out in the media goes something like this: Adams was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago at the age of 37. She's a mother with three young children whose goal is to live long enough to see her children grow up. Like many individuals with the disease, she's sought out aggressive treatment for metastatic breast cancer. She's a prolific blogger and uses Twitter to chronicle her life.

Read more: Public Displays of Cancer

Demystifying Death for a Child

Stacey and her family at Race for the Cure

Stacey Tinianov is a caffeine-powered working mama and shiny object follower, runner, suburban environmentalist, cyclist, breast cancer ass-kicker, and empowered patient advocate. Follow her on Twitter, @CoffeeMommy.

Three years ago, the idea of choosing death over life was a completely foreign concept to me. And then my 85-year old grandmother had a massive stroke on the day of my son's 9th birthday party.

Within 12 hours, I was on a plane to Texas and not long after I was in the ICU holding her hand. She was lucid but completely paralyzed on one side. She tried to talk but she was hard to understand. She was irritated to be stuck in a bed and didn't seem to understand half her body wasn't working. She would pump her leg and arm as if she were running to prove she did indeed have body control.

With the combination of her spunk, the support of her family gathered around her bedside and the excellent care she was receiving in the hospital, we all thought—assumed—she'd recover.

Then, she failed her swallow test. And we watched her lose her will to live.

Read more: Demystifying Death for a Child

Pages

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.

donate today