By Peg Sandeen, Death with Dignity Executive Director
November 25, 2020
Every November, I make a list of 30 things I’m thankful for, one for each day. This year’s list reflects the ways our world has changed in the span of a few short months; it also centers on the relationships that endure no matter the circumstances.
On November 1, I gave thanks to my mother, who is “alive and kickin,’” as she frequently says while puttering around my hometown in Iowa, and to my daughter, Hannah, who will receive her Master’s in STEM Education in just a few weeks. They may be more than a thousand miles away, but we stay connected despite the distance.
On November 6, I gave thanks to urban farming and bartering: let’s call it Peach Jam Day. I’ve cultivated what I refer to as my homestead in Portland, Oregon, where chickens roam the backyard and make eggs I trade with my neighbors for freshly baked bread. Last summer I made many jars of peach jam to share with others. Our mini-mutual aid society is a way for us to nourish and strengthen relationships with each other while making the most of all that time at home.
I couldn’t have predicted last year that I’d give thanks on November 14 to something called “my pod.” But the small group of people that comprise my pod has been both a joy and a lifeline in isolating times. We gather together outdoors—recently with the addition of electric blankets to keep the cold at bay—and are creating new traditions.
And today? I dedicate today to the death with dignity movement, which has provided me with my purpose, my profession, and the opportunity to connect with people across the country who care as deeply as I do about ensuring terminally ill individuals have the right to decide how they die. They inspire me with their strength, determination, and moral courage.
This year hasn’t been easy. Death has come closer to us all in ways I never could have imagined. I know well the pain of losing a loved one, and I hold space in my heart for those who are grieving someone gone too soon.
In spite of it all, I find myself feeling hopeful for the future. I give thanks for everyone who has supported and sustained me in 2020. That includes the Death with Dignity community, and everyone who has made this movement as successful and strong as it is today.
Executive Director, Death with Dignity