How much control do you have over your death?

How much control do you want over the final days, weeks and months of your life?

A. I don’t want to think about that. I’m confident that the medical profession will do what’s right by me.

B. I don’t want to think about that, but I have a sense I should do something. The medical profession seems to focus on keeping people alive as long as possible with little or no consideration about quality of life.

C. I want as much control as possible. I have no way of knowing if my process of dying will have any semblance of grace and dignity. But I don’t know where to start looking.

If you answered “A” you can delete this and get on with your day. If you answered “B” or “C” please read on.

I won’t go into detail about the big picture, which is well documented by Compassion and Choices (C&C), a national “death with dignity” advocacy group. It’s all there at compassionandchoices.org. Evan Nison is the New Jersey contact person at enison@compassionandchoices.org. (908-812-0473)

The immediate focus in New Jersey is the New Jersey Death With Dignity Act, which recently cleared an assembly committee. The act (A2270 and S382) would give people access to a full range of options in the final stages of life to alleviate pain and suffering and, if desired, allow for self-administered medication to end life for people who are terminally ill with a six-month or less prognosis.

This type of law is in place in Washington, Montana and Vermont and is supported by up to 63% of New Jersey voters.

A good way to start your process is to spend some time on the C&C website and, if so inclined, sign on as a supporter of the Death With Dignity Act.

I’ll have more personal reflections on this extremely important issue in future blogs.

 

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