Final Exit Network announces Dying in the Americas 2018, a conference devoted to re-imagining the future of dying with the objective of a peaceful death for everyone. The conference will take place March 21 to March 25, 2018, in the peaceful setting of the Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa in Henderson, Nevada, in the foothills outside Las Vegas. The program is open to academics, health care professionals, physicians, nurses, geriatric social workers, Thanatologists, hospice and nursing facility personnel, palliative care specialists, insurance and government professionals, and those interested in improving the quality of the dying experience for both the patient and family.
To close out this year, FEN member Linda Wilshusen has allowed us to post some thoughts she first wrote three years ago for her own blog – the everyday primate – but are as timely now as when written. The Good Death Society Blog will take off for three weeks and return with new posts on January 8, 2018.
Originally posted at “the everyday primate”
You’re probably rolling your eyes at this apparent not-joy-t0-the-world holiday season post. But hang in here with me – this topic could fuel unusual & maybe even helpful family dinner conversations. Still skeptical? Well, just remind yourself that there’s nothing more important to religious holidays than life & death.
When contemplating what you want when it comes to the disposition of your body, it helps to go in with the understanding that very few services are required by law. Whether you choose a simple cremation with no ceremony, body burial preceded by a conventional funeral, or donating your body to anatomical study, the legal requirements that must be fulfilled at death are so minimal most people are surprised. And this holds true in every state in the country. If you’re willing to clear your mind of what you think you have to do for a funeral, your planning will go more smoothly and more quickly.
While not everyone who reads this message, because of their own circumstances, will feel like being thankful this week, I thought I would take a break from our usual discussions to share a few thoughts that my own family has embraced for several years on Thanksgiving. It is an incomplete and changing list of some of the things we have to be thankful for, with a measure of reality thrown in to keep us from feeling too smug about being Americans, or living in America. The thoughts are intentionally not sectarian or religious. I hope they have a universal human quality about them.
One problem with advance directives is that often they are not honored. It is critical that you have a good advocate who demands that you get only the care you want and do not get what is not wanted, not only at end of life but at any time you encounter a medical institution. You will need to choose someone who meets the legal requirements to act as a health care or medical agent, which some states call a proxy, surrogate, or representative. I call this person your “advocate.” State requirements differ greatly, so be sure to use your state’s forms for naming a health care or medical agent, not generic documents like the “5 wishes.”
Usually, when we talk about suffering, we are thinking of physical suffering. But there are many people with severe, unresolved, debilitating mental illness who can find no relief from their suffering – suffering that is just as real (though its cause is different) as that experienced, for instance, by a patient at the end stages of pancreatic cancer, or a patient dying of metastasized prostate cancer. And none of the existing programs and services can help those with unrelenting mental illness die a peaceful death – a good death – to put an end to their suffering.
In Part 1, I began explaining why the disability rights group Not Dead Yet opposes Death With Dignity laws and the right to die. I also provided the most recent data from Oregon’s experience with its DWDA to refute some of the claims of Not Dead Yet.
All of the arguments made against the DWD laws by Not Dead Yet are false or misleading.
Five years ago in Massachusetts, the right to autonomy in one’s body went down to defeat in a vote related to irrational fear by some disability rights advocates working through the activist group Not Dead Yet. Their position was that they would be compelled or coerced into ending their own lives if the initiative passed.
Nearly everyone hopes for a peaceful death; yet such an end can be elusive. Many of us face both philosophical and practical questions as we do what we can to make our own deaths peaceful.
Some of us may have religious questions. Judaism, like many other religions, is all over the map in its thinking about ways to achieve a peaceful death.
Two years ago, a book of thirty essays supporting the right to assisted death edited by Colin Brewer and Michael Irwin, was published by Skyscraper Publications, Ltd. Most of the essays make arguments familiar to Americans involved in the right-to-die movement, but often with a European (and British) take that makes them fresh. Others tell first-person stories that are as riveting as any heard in the US.