The Brittany Maynard Fund

Working to Make Death with Dignity an Option for All…

“Now that I’ve had the prescription filled and it’s in my possession, I have experienced a tremendous sense of relief. And if I decide to change my mind about taking the medication, I will not take it. Having this choice at the end of my life has become incredibly important. It has given me a sense of peace during a tumultuous time that otherwise would be dominated by fear, uncertainty and pain…” Brittany Maynard

Day 43: Final Post

MisBehaved Woman:

So very, very sorry for the family’s loss. Without ever likely knowing it, Peter was an inspiration to other people around the world…

Originally posted on Tic Toc Tic Toc dying to a killer clock:

Hi, my beautiful husband Pete died this morning at 12:20 AM. He died peacefully and I was privileged enough to be sitting on his bed holding his hand at that time. Pete’s decision to opt for Palliative care brought him to a place of calmness and serenity and for all of us, safety and security. It allowed Pete to relax, stop fighting and go calmly to his happy place. Thank you all so much for your constant love and support, it has meant the world to us.

As a family we will continue to strive to achieve Pete’s dream of seeing Senator Richard Di Natale’s Dying With Dignity Bill become Law.

Elizabeth and Mitchell x

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We Talk So Much About ‘Natural Birth’—When Can We Discuss Natural Death?

Originally posted on TIME:

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

Call it a run of bad luck, but I’ve had to watch a few people die lately. First, my grandmother descended into dementia and finally faded away. Then, my mother battled leukemia and lost her life to its treatment. Next, a great aunt died at age 102 in her home, very peacefully. And now I take care of my 92-year-old grandfather, and his time is drawing near.

In the six years since I had my son, I’ve watched my kid grow up while I’ve watched the rest of my family grow down. My son went from being wheeled in a stroller to toddling to walking. My elders went from walking to falling to wheelchairs.

Poised as I am between the beginning and the end of life, I had to ask myself, why do people talk so much about natural birth but not much…

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Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul

Orphan Wisdom- “Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul”, is Stephen Jenkinson’s new book about grief, and dying, and the great love of life. Die Wise does not offer seven steps for coping with death.  It does not suggest ways to make dying easier. It pours no honey to make the medicine go down. Instead, with lyrical prose, deep wisdom, and stories from his two decades of working with dying people and their families, Stephen Jenkinson places death at the center of the page and asks us to behold it in all its painful beauty. Die Wise teaches the skills of dying, skills that have to be learned in the course of living deeply and well. Die Wise is for those who will fail to live forever.

As part of the release the of the new book, filmmaker Ian MacKenzie produced this beautiful video trailer with Stephen sharing his story about the meaning and purpose for what Die Wise is made to serve.

Either Laughing Or Learning

via MisBehavedWoman – ”

I sit here tonight, finally, blessedly alone in my house for the first time since last Monday. I’ve watched and re-watched the video clip of Dad & I singing together at his party last weekend and all I can do is grin from ear-to-ear with every viewing. What a spectacular video…what a spectacular day it was for us! I feel blessed, not bereaved.

!1ADadNMe

I know that it is our society’s standard that dictates to us that losing a loved one should be cause for reacting with extreme sadness, a sense of overwhelming loss and of course, a hardy display of tears & sobbing. My father passed away less than a week ago; according to societal norm, I should be in a state of zombie-like depression or collapsed in a pile of tears across my bed…it seems like folks are just waiting for me to suddenly up and pass out. I can’t decide if it (their concern) is touching, humorous or irritating…meh, all of the above, I suppose.

Anyone waiting for me to fall apart over the death of my father is going to be in for one very long vigil though. No, I am not avoiding or denying my grief or loss…I am keenly aware of what is no longer part of my life, believe me. Dad was hands down the most influential and respected person in my life; his presence will be missed more than I would ever care to share in public quite honestly. But even behind closed doors (or ‘puter screens as the case may be…), I am not feeling overly-saddened nor am I holding back tears just to be strong. I’ve already cried plenty in the time since we received the initial diagnosis. I bawled my damn head off at the moment he passed and for a good several minutes afterwards.

But I’ve done this death-n-dying thing before. I’ve walked a parent through an extended dying process and because of it, I now understand how blessed I am (we all are) that Dad lived and died on his own terms. Living on his own terms meant doing things his own way with no need to seek anyone’s approval. He lived a big, brave, interesting, daring and joyous life filled with adventures, constant self-educating & improvement and always, always…lots of singing, daincin’! and laughin’…”

Full Article on MBW

Melvin Taylor, Jr ~ A Life Well Lived

Dad Rosh Hashanah 2014Melvin (Mel) M. Taylor Jr., 76, of Las Cruces, passed away following a long struggle with the effects of exposure to asbestos during his working life. He was much loved and respected by all who knew him.

He was born to Melvin Sr. & Jean (Curnell) Taylor in Scott City (then Fornfeldt), Missouri, and moved to Las Cruces with his family in 1955. He attended Las Cruces High School, held several different types of jobs, most frequently as a painter both commercial and residential and held a paint contractor’s license.

Mel loved poetry, art, music (preferably old country), and most especially his family. He loved to sing and did so often, and the bawdier the better. He especially liked to and was good at making up parodies of well-known songs. Another of his favorite pastimes was inventing tall tales and stories for children like the gremlins and lurkies under the house or the tomato monster in the ceiling. He could recite from memory long passages of poetry, particularly John Masefield’s “The Everlasting Mercy”, his favorite, also, many of Rudyard Kipling’s poems. He was an avid hunter and fisherman; his trips to the Gila Wilderness and to his house on Lake Novillo in Mexico were his favorite vacations. On weekends he enjoyed taking his family and friends out for Jeep rides and picnics in the desert.

He joined Temple Beth-El of Las Cruces in1976 and was dedicated to its prosperity and continued growth in the community, serving twice as President as well as various terms as treasurer and Vice President.

He worked in Saudi Arabia for two years and mentioned his experiences there often. In fact it, was his trip to Saudi Arabia that eventually led him to Temple Bel-El through mutual friends years later.

He is survived by his wife of 17 years Dia Taylor, his son Melvin M. Taylor III (Christy), daughter Rebecca McFarland (Steve), four grandchildren, Kyle Taylor, Ashley Rodriguez, (DJ), Nicholas Kershaw, Harley Rose Kershaw, and foster daughter Dixie Hatcher. He is also survived by his sister, Trish Langdon (Lance) and her children, Annette, Jeffrey and Krystal. As well as four step-children Mark Jennings,Taura Lathem, Eric Hauber and Stacy Walpole.

He was preceded in death by this father, Melvin Sr., his mother Jean and by his first wife, Darlene.

In lieu of flowers Mel requested that donations be made to Temple Beth-El 3980 Sonoma Springs Ave, Las Cruces, NM 88011.

Funeral services were held 10:30 a.m., Thursday, October 30th at Temple Beth-El. Graveside services followed immediately afterwards at Masonic Cemetery. Arrangements made by La Paz – Graham’s Funeral Home.

The Day The Music – And My Dad – Died

My father passed away at 10:15 this morning, October 28th. He was at home, comfortable, singing, reciting poetry, laughing and teasing us all the way out the door. He was surrounded by all of his loved ones and he died on his own terms, in his own way. It was truly a Dignified Death…just as he wished it to be.

And today…Well, for me…this is The Day The Music Died.

So here’s to you, Dad…one last song for the road…

A short clip of Dad & I at our last family party this past Sunday. I got to sing with Dad one last time…and I will be forever grateful.

What’s Criminal About Suicide? Withholding Access To It

Choosing to die is not an easy decision, and few people will make that choice; all told, perhaps a couple of hundred each year in a country where there are a quarter of a million annual deaths. But having that choice – that right – should be a given in a democratic society.

Excerpt, The Globe & Mail -“A new study out of Britain offers some interesting insight. The group Dignity in Dying found that, in England, about 7 per cent of people who die by suicide are suffering from terminal illness.

The data are not rock-solid because, while death certificates list cause of death, they do not always detail underlying conditions. We also know that like drug overdoses, many suicide deaths are not listed as such, so the number is likely an underestimate.

Most people who die by suicide suffer from mental illness, such as depression or schizophrenia. But it’s clear that some people who are mentally competent make rational decisions to take their own lives. So for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s 7 per cent of recorded cases.

In Canada, where there were 3,728 recorded suicides in 2011, that would translate to about 260 suicides by terminally ill people. Would those people opt for physician-assisted death if that was an option? We don’t know.

What is clear, though, is that offering the terminally ill the choice of a planned death – a physician injecting a cocktail of barbiturates and muscle relaxants – is far more humane than the current options.

Instead, what we have in Canada today is sick and dying people jumping off balconies and stockpiling their medications so they can poison themselves – many reduced to searching Google for “how to kill yourself painlessly.”

We also have terminally ill patients who sign do-not-resuscitate orders, or who routinely refuse food and water and starve themselves to death.”

A Peaceful Death with Dignity

Originally posted on Let's talk about death and dying...:

I’d like to express my appreciation to Brittany Maynard for going public with her decision to exercise her Death with Dignity option in Oregon because it will bring this conversation to the family dinner table where it belongs. Of course I’m sad she has this terrible condition, but if she can make something positive out of a bad situation, which she is by raising awareness, it gives hope to many people who want the same thing– if my death is inevitable, let it be peaceful and on my own terms.

This is what I encourage people to do on a daily basis through my writings and “Having The Conversation over Coffee and Cake” gatherings. I don’t encourage Death with Dignity, but I’m not afraid to address it as an option and provide resources, such as Compassion & Choices, if people want to consider it. This is a truly personal…

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Canada: National Day of Action and Solidarity!

via Dying With Dignity Canada on Facebook-

Stand up and join us on Oct. 15 for our National Day of Action and Solidarity! #‎AssistedDying‬ ‪#‎GotToBeABetterWay‬

We have rallies scheduled in: St. John’s, Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Vancouver and Victoria.

CA Rallies

Join on our Events page: https://www.facebook.com/DWDCanada/events

A Christian Argument For Physician Assisted Death

Originally posted on ofamoderation:

water rainbow 2 Photo from personal collection

Updated 5:30 pm EST 10/10/14

I have watched a lot of people die.

After spending nearly two years providing patient care in the emergency department of a Level 1 trauma center, I now work with hospice patients, offering comfort to those who have 6 months or less to live.

I am blessed with a big, loving, Catholic family. Our faith has played a major role in shaping each of us throughout the years.

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It’s safe to say religion has played a major role in every aspect of my life.

Yet I firmly believe in the right of our terminally ill to die with dignity.

Many of the arguments I’ve heard against the legalization of physician assisted death have been religious ones. Though I’ve been grateful to see most protestors stating their positions with love and respect, I want to clearly express that religious individuals can and do support Death…

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New Poll: Doctor-Assisted Suicide Supported by Majority of Canadians

Excerpts, CBCNews “More than three quarters of Canadians in a new online poll supported doctor-assisted suicide, as the issue heads the Supreme Court next week.

Eighty-four per cent of people surveyed said they agreed that “a doctor should be able to help someone end their life if the person is a competent adult who is terminally ill, suffering unbearably and repeatedly asks for assistance to die.”

Nearly 90 per cent of Nova Scotians and British Columbians in the survey agreed with the statement. More men agreed with it than women.

From those who supported the right to die, 88 per cent supported it for patients with a “terminal illness that results in unbearable suffering.” That number dropped slightly — to 86 per cent in favour — for patients with a “serious incurable illness or condition, with an advanced state of weakened capacity that is permanent, incurable, and results in unbearable suffering.”

The Supreme Court of Canada will begin hearing Carter v. Canada next week. The appeal case challenges the criminality of physician-assisted suicide.

The case was originally launched in 2011 by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Gloria Taylor and the family of Kay Carter. Both those women suffered from degenerative conditions and have died.

In 2012, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled in their favour and gave Parliament one year to rewrite the laws against assisted dying.

However, the federal government appealed the decision and the B.C. Court of Appeal overturned the ruling in 2013.”

Full Article

Solid majority backs MD-assisted suicide

Dying 29-Year-Old Launches Campaign for Death With Dignity in California, Nationwide

“I can’t even tell you the amount of relief that it provides me to know that I don’t have to die the way that it’s been described to me, that my brain tumor would take me on its own,” Brittany concludes in the video. “I hope to enjoy however many days I have on this beautiful Earth and spend as much of it outside as I can surrounded by those I love. I hope to pass in peace.”

Death-with-dignity advocate Brittany Maynard & husband Dan Diaz at their wedding (PRNewsFoto/Compassion & Choices)

Excerpts, PR Newswire – “PORTLAND, Ore., Oct. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — With the few weeks she has left to live, 29-year-old California native Brittany Maynard is launching a campaign in partnership with Compassion & Choices to raise awareness about the need to expand death-with-dignity laws nationwide.

Death-with-dignity laws authorize the medical practice of aid in dying, which offers mentally competent, terminally ill adults with less than six months to live the option to request a prescription for medication they can self-administer to end their dying process if it becomes unbearable.

Brittany was diagnosed with an aggressive, fatal form of brain cancer earlier this year; realizing they had few choices, Brittany and her family relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area to Portland, Oregon, to access Oregon’s death-with-dignity law.

“Brittany’s courage to tell her story as she is dying, and alert all Americans to the choice of death with dignity, is selfless and heroic,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, an attorney, former ER and ICU nurse and physician assistant who was an author of the Oregon death-with-dignity law.

“Most people do not have the flexibility, resources and time to uproot their family, establish residency in a death-with-dignity jurisdiction and gain the option to die on their own terms,” she added. “To accomplish that demanding task and embark on this venture to improve end-of-life care for other Americans is both noble and kind.” Full Article Here on PR Newswire

A campaign to expand access to death with dignity in Brittany’s name launches on Monday, October 6 at www.thebrittanyfund.org. All funds raised will go to supporting Compassion & Choices’ state-by-state efforts.

Panel Urges Overhauling Health Care at End of Life

“Dr. Pizzo said that in surveys of doctors about their own end-of-life preferences, “a vast majority want to be at home and as free of pain as possible, and yet that’s not what doctors practice.”

Excerpts, NYTimes–  “The country’s system for handling end-of-life care is largely broken and should be overhauled at almost every level, a national panel concluded in a report released on Wednesday.

Janice Ryan and her husband, Richard, reviewing forms stating their end-of-life preferences at a doctor’s office in Dundee, N.Y. Credit Heather Ainsworth for The New York Times

The 21-member nonpartisan committee, appointed by the Institute of Medicine, the independent research arm of the National Academy of Sciences, called for sweeping change.

“The bottom line is the health care system is poorly designed to meet the needs of patients near the end of life,” said David M. Walker, a Republican and a former United States comptroller general, who was a chairman of the panel. “The current system is geared towards doing more, more, more, and that system by definition is not necessarily consistent with what patients want, and is also more costly…”

…The panel, which included doctors, nurses, insurers, religious leaders, lawyers and experts on aging, said Medicare and other insurers should create financial incentives for health care providers to have continuing conversations with patients on advance care planning, possibly starting as early as major teenage milestones like getting a driver’s license or going to college.

It called for a “major reorientation and restructuring of Medicare, Medicaid and other health care delivery programs” and the elimination of “perverse financial incentives” that encourage expensive hospital procedures when growing numbers of very sick and very old patients want low-tech services like home health care and pain management.” Full Article on NYTimes

(Canada) Fletcher To Take ‘Suicide Bill’ To Senate

“The momentum is unstoppable. The only question is how long will it take?”

Winnipeg Free Press– ” OTTAWA — Physician-assisted suicide will be a reality in Canada no matter what the federal government wants, Manitoba Conservative MP Steven Fletcher said Monday.

He called it “inevitable.”

“The momentum is unstoppable. The only question is how long will it take?”

Fletcher was reacting to comments from Health Minister Rona Ambrose, who said in an interview this week with CBC that assisted suicide is not her priority.

“The starting point for me is we still don’t have the best elderly care and palliative care yet,” said Ambrose. “I want to see us strive to be the best in the world for palliative care before we lead to this discussion.”

She pointed to a 2010 debate on an ultimately defeated Bloc Québécois bill for assisted suicide as a sign Parliament doesn’t want to go down that road at this time, and suggested the issue isn’t on Parliament’s agenda.

“Right now, there is no debate in the House of Commons because there is no legislation put forward in the House of Commons,” she said.

Ambrose didn’t mention that there are two assisted-suicide bills Parliament could deal with if there were the political will to do so.

“There is legislation,” said Fletcher. “It’s just not in the order of precedence.”

Fletcher introduced both bills in March. One sets up the conditions under which assisted suicide can take place, and the second establishes a mechanism with which to monitor that new law. From a backbencher, the bills are unlikely to make it to the floor for debate unless an MP whose bills are higher in the queue trades with Fletcher. He’s instead taking his bills across the way to the Senate.

He says he has spoken with many senators and believes there is enough support to pass the bills within the Senate. If that happened, the bills would go back to the House of Commons at the top of the pile.” Full Article

Chicago Hosting Right-to-Die Event

Chicago Tribune – “Changes in the law regarding same-sex marriage, medical marijuana and other once-polarizing issues have encouraged advocates who hope the country is ready to address another taboo: giving terminally ill people a say in how they die.

They say the right to die is gaining political momentum. Illegal everywhere 17 years ago, assisted dying is now permissible in four states — Oregon, Montana, Vermont and Washington — and has been considered elsewhere. Medicare officials are expected to decide this year whether to cover end-of-life discussions. And the convention of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies — which opens Wednesday in Chicago — was sold out weeks ago.

Lynn Lawson, 89, and her husband Court, 93, would like to see an Oregon-style death-with-dignity law in Illinois. (Abel Uribe, Chicago Tribune)

“I just want the most graceful ending I can possibly have,” said Deborah Landis, of Winthrop Harbor, who struggles with multiple sclerosis and wants end-of-life options when she needs them. “We treat our (suffering) animals kinder than we treat our loved ones.”

Some 300 participants from across the nation and around the world will convene at the Embassy Suites downtown, the first time the biennial convention is being held in the U.S. since 2000. The agenda includes three days of speakers, from international leaders to local activists, who want to see a death-with-dignity bill introduced in Springfield.

With the aging of the baby boomers, many advocates believe assisted dying is on the cusp of a watershed moment. But opponents are equally passionate, insisting that any legislation that hastens death would open the door for coercion and abuse.

Providing any assistance in dying is a criminal offense in Illinois and 45 other states, but supporters hope the conference will raise awareness and change attitudes on what they call a human rights issue. They shun words like “suicide” and “euthanasia” in favor of “aid in dying” or “physician-assisted dying.” A May 2013 Gallup survey found that 70 percent of Americans approve of “end-of-life initiatives” versus 51 percent when the term “assisted suicide” is used.

But regardless of nomenclature, the measures are similar: It allows mentally competent, terminally ill adults to request a prescription for life-ending medication from their physician, to self-administer if and when they choose…” Full Article + Videos on Chicago Tribune

Basel Debates Second Swiss Right-to-Die Clinic

Exit, the Swiss organization that helps people to end their own lives, has asked local authorities for permission to change its Basel office into a facility for assisted suicide. If agreed, the building would become the second such facility in Switzerland, after Dignitas. 

The Dignitas clinic is currently the only assisted dying facility in Switzerland. Photo: Sebastian Derungs/AFP

Excerpts, The Local – “Exit, a member organization which supports “self-determined death” by arranging living wills or end-of-life care, helped 32 people in the Basel area die last year and is struggling to keep up with demand, according to Swiss broadcaster RTS.

Normally the organization assists the suicide of patients in hospitals or old people’s homes, but when that isn’t possible it transfers them by ambulance to Dignitas, in the canton of Zurich…

…A recent study confirmed that suicide tourism in Switzerland has been on the rise over the past few years.

The report noted that 172 people had travelled to the country in 2012, double the number three years previously. The vast majority ended their lives at Dignitas.

Switzerland is one of the few countries where assisted dying is legal.” Full Article

Woman, 93, Wants The Right To Die On Her Own Terms

The Leader Post -“Jean Hopkins is dreaming of a party. It likely wouldn’t happen anytime soon, but inevitably the time will come when her body fails her.

She’d invite her family and friends, and they’d say a few words about her and the lives they’ve shared together – a living wake.

93-year-old Jean Hopkins believes that people should have the right to end their life when they please – before being stuck in a hospital bed with no quality of life.

Afterwards, she would take a pill, crawl into her own bed and go to sleep, forever.

“I just think it’s kind of nice to have people together that you want to see, and they can say they saw Mom just before she died,” she said. Hopkins, 93, is yet another senior to publicly express her wish for the legal right to die, an issue set to come before the Supreme Court of Canada next month.

“I think so often doctors and everybody don’t consider the quality of life. You keep a person’s heart beating, but have you got any quality of life?” Hopkins said.

Right now, she’s in relatively good health. She’s on many medications and has trouble hearing, but still enjoys reading and going on the occasional stroll around the block to have some ice cream.

Should her health deteriorate, she has decided she doesn’t want to wear diapers or have a feeding tube inserted while she languishes in a hospital bed – she wants her family to remember her as she is now.

“I think that’s a terrible insult to older people. When you’re reduced to that, you haven’t much control of your body. If you haven’t got that, what’s the point? Why can’t I go to sleep?” She also worries about her mind slipping. She has told her son that if she ever can’t remember her own family, “someone’s going to have to arrange to drop me in the river or something, because I couldn’t stand that.”

Currently, anyone who helps or encourages someone to commit suicide – whether the person lives or dies – is violating the Criminal Code of Canada and could face a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail. Parliament revisited the issue in April 2010, when the majority voted to leave the law as is.

However, Canada’s laws could soon change. Next month, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear appeals in a case from the British Columbia Civil Liberties

Association involving two B.C. women who challenged the country’s law against euthanasia.

Another B.C. woman, 83-year old Gillian Bennett, famously ended her life with barbiturates last month before her dementia progressed further.

Assisted suicide is permitted in several European countries, including Switzerland and the Netherlands, and in five U.S. states, including Washington and Oregon.

In June, Quebec became the first jurisdiction in Canada to allow euthanasia. That legislation has already been challenged in court…” Full Article on Leader-Post