We were extremely saddened to learn of the death of Rebecca VanWormer, a passionate advocate for assisted dying legislation in her home state of Maine. She was 43.
Becky shared her story with us in the summer of 2015. Suffering from ever-metastasizing cancer, she wanted to live as long as she could and the option to “go on my own terms” when she could not. But the aid-in-dying bill her state’s legislature was considering at the time, failed to pass by a single vote in the Maine Senate. The disappointment motivated her to get involved in passing Death with Dignity legislation. “I will either die with the law in place or fighting for it,” she told us.
When Becky saw a wrong, she got up and did something about it. Reporting on her death, a local news channel told the story of how, when she saw there were no Christmas festivities in her town of East Millinocket, Becky got together with a group of friends and brought Christmas to their community. Becky was able to spend one last Christmas with her loved ones.
Though she died fighting for Death with Dignity to Maine, she inspired many to join the fight and get involved in the issue. “I’m hoping this is the one thing I can do before I go—help provide the option for others,” she said.
Her death, before Death with Dignity is legal, is a tremendous loss for her husband Ken, her family, her community, and the entire Death with Dignity movement.
Our friend on the ground in Maine, Valerie Lovelace, interviewed Becky in the summer of 2016:
“That’s a powerful thing when someone literally hands you the end of their life, wanting you to put it on tape,” Val said. “She inspired me with her courage and raw honesty. She wanted Maine lawmakers to understand that having a safe-guarded end-of-life option like Death with Dignity is really important, because dying is a personal, private process. You know, sharing a personal story like that takes guts. Sharing it publicly take a LOT of guts.”
Becky’s husband Ken, added, “I hope her story will help convince more lawmakers to change their minds and pass this law so others with similar situations don’t have to suffer, both the dying and their loved ones.”
We extend our condolences to Ken and Becky’s family. What a tremendous loss for them, their community, the state of Maine, and the Death with Dignity movement. We will carry Becky’s legacy on as we continue our campaign to pass a Death with Dignity law in Maine.