Anticipatory Grief Webinar


I have the pleasure of announcing an upcoming webinar on the topic of anticipatory grief with my colleague, Janet Edmunson.

Registration form and more information HERE!

What’s this grief I feel? My loved one hasn’t died yet!
by Janet Edmunson, M.Ed.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

For family and professional caregivers

Webinar will be 30 minutes in length.

All attendees will be entered into a drawing for Janet Edmunson’s book Finding Meaning with Charles.

7:00 p.m. (Eastern)
6:00 p.m. (Central)
5:00 p.m. (Mountain)
4:00 p.m. (Pacific)

Webinar Description: Caregivers often face grief before their loved one dies. Professionals call that anticipatory grief. In this webinar, Janet will share her experiences with anticipatory grief along with ways to help cope with it while you continue to care for your loved one.

About Janet: Janet has over 30 years’ experience in the health promotion field. She retired in May 2007 as Director of the Prevention & Wellness for a staff of 20 at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Since retirement, as President of JME Insights, she is a motivational speaker having spoken to hundreds of groups across the U.S. While working full-time, Janet took care of her husband, Charles, during the five years he fought a movement disorder with dementia. Janet wrote about her experience in her book, Finding Meaning with Charles. Janet has a Master’s degree from Georgia State University. She resides in South Portland, Maine.


Hump Day Humor


It’s that time again! We love Wednesdays.


My story on The Conversation Project


I have some wonderful news. My contribution has been included on the story page of The Conversation Project.

My story is titled: A student of death.

I hope each of you will consider adding your story to this extraordinary repository of end of life wisdom. Let’s keep the conversation going.




Remembrance – a poem by Emily Bronte

Cold in the earth—and the deep snow piled above thee,
Far, far removed, cold in the dreary grave!
Have I forgot, my only Love, to love thee,
Severed at last by Time’s all-severing wave?

Now, when alone, do my thoughts no longer hover
Over the mountains, on that northern shore,
Resting their wings where heath and fern-leaves cover
That noble heart for ever, ever more?

Cold in the earth, and fifteen wild Decembers
From those brown hills have melted into spring:
Faithful indeed is the spirit that remembers
After such years of change and suffering!

Sweet Love of youth, forgive if I forget thee,
While the world’s tide is bearing me along:
Sterner desires and other hopes beset me,
Hopes which obscure, but cannot do thee wrong!

No later light has lightened up my heaven;
No second morn has ever shone for me:
All my life’s bliss from thy dear life was given,
All my life’s bliss is in the grave with thee.

But when the days of golden dreams had perished,
And even Despair was powerless to destroy,
Then did I learn how existence could be cherished,
Strengthened, and fed without the aid of joy;

Then did I check the tears of useless passion,
Weaned my young soul from yearning after thine;
Sternly denied its burning wish to hasten
Down to that tomb already more than mine.

And even yet I dare not let it languish,
Dare not indulge in Memory’s rapturous pain;
Once drinking deep of that divinest anguish,
How could I seek the empty world again?


Assisted suicide measure narrowly defeated; supporters concede defeat


By Carolyn Johnson

A divisive ballot initiative that would allow terminally ill patients to end their lives with medication prescribed by physicians was narrowly defeated.

The Death with Dignity Campaign conceded this morning, as unofficial results tallied by the Associated Press showed that, with 95 percent of precincts reporting, 51 percent of voters had opposed the measure, compared with 49 percent in favor.

“For the past year, the people of Massachusetts participated in an open and honest conversation about allowing terminally ill patients the choice to end their suffering,” the campaign said in a statement released at 6:30 a.m. “The Death with Dignity Act offered the terminally ill the right to make that decision for themselves, but regrettably, we fell short. Our grassroots campaign was fueled by thousands of people from across this state, but outspent five to one by groups opposed to individual choice.

“Even in defeat, the voters of Massachusetts have delivered a call to action that will continue and grow until the terminally ill have the right to end their suffering, because today dying people needlessly endure in our Commonwealth and do not have the right to control their most personal medical decision.”

The ballot question has been the subject of a ferocious political battle. After a Boston Globe poll in September showed voters overwhelmingly supported the measure, support steadily eroded in the face of a last-minute effort by a diverse group of opponents, including religious leaders, anti-abortion activists, and conservatives who aired their message in aggressive television advertisements and at church services. The concerted opposition campaign, which also included a major physician’s group, raised more than three times as much money as proponents.

In a statement, Rosanne Bacon Meade, chairperson of the Committee Against Assisted Suicide, said that while some votes remain to be counted, the efforts to stop the measure had been successful. She added that she hoped the result would spark discussions about how to improve medical care at the end of life.

“We believe Question 2 was defeated because the voters came to see this as a flawed approach to end of life care, lacking in the most basic safeguards,” Meade said in the statement. “A broad coalition of medical professionals, religious leaders, elected officials and, voters from across the political spectrum made clear that these flaws were too troubling for a question of such consequence.”

“Tuesday’s vote demonstrates that the people of the Commonwealth recognize that the common good was best served in defeating Question 2,” Cardinal Sean O’Malley said in a statement.

Massachusetts would have followed Oregon and Washington, which have passed similar initiatives to allow terminally ill patients to seek life-ending drugs from physicians. Donations to opposition groups, which raised nearly $2.6 million, came from far-flung Catholic dioceses, fueled in part by fear of a domino effect if the measure were to gain a foothold in Massachusetts.

Proponents of the measure raised about $700,000.

Other efforts to legalize physician-assisted suicide in New England have failed. In 2000, a ballot initiative in Maine lost by a close margin. Legislative efforts to pass a similar bill in Vermont and New Hampshire have been defeated in recent years.

Voters said they formed their opinions about the controversial ballot initiative after careful consideration, informed by personal experiences with family members and by concerns about the safeguards written into the law.

North End resident Paul Santoro, 42, cast a vote against the initiative.

“I’m actually in favor of assisted suicide, but not how this is written,” Santoro said, citing concerns about the proposal’s lack of required psychiatric evaluations and family notification and the lack of tracking for any leftover pills.

Santoro, who works in sales, said he has five children and worries about young people getting access to dangerous, untracked medications.

Alex Coon, 37, voting at the Dante Club in Somerville, said he voted for assisted suicide for a very personal reason.

“My grandmother was Dutch, and she always said, ‘When I get sick, take me home to Holland, because they’ll let me die,’ ” he said.

The Massachusetts ballot measure was modeled after similar legislation passed by voters in Oregon in 1994. If it had passed, it would have allowed terminally ill patients with less than six months to live to request medications to end their lives. Patients would have had to request medication from physicians multiple times verbally and in writing, be deemed competent to make the decision, and administer the lethal dose themselves.

Critics had said the measure was sloppily written and contained insufficient protection for vulnerable patients. Objections ranged from the difficulty of assessing how much time a patient has left to the failure to require a mental health screening by a specialist. Others opposed the initiative for moral reasons, or because it was counter to the fundamental do-no-harm ethos that governs physicians.

The legislation would have required the state Department of Public Health to write rules by March 20, 2013, to require physicians to report when the drug was dispensed, file copies of prescriptions, and help facilitate the collection of other statistical information.

Statistics kept by Oregon and Washington are frequently cited by proponents as evidence that the law is not being abused and poses no large-scale societal threat. Those detailed statistics show that the fatal doses of medication are requested by a small number of patients and used by even fewer.

Oregon’s law was mired in legal challenges for several years, but since 1997 when it was enacted, 935 people have requested prescriptions, and 596 have used them to end their lives. In 2011 in Oregon, most of the 71 people who used the medication were white, well-educated, and suffering from cancer.

In Washington last year, 103 people requested the prescriptions, with 70 using them and 19 dying without taking the drugs. Of those who requested prescriptions and died, nearly half were married, three-quarters had some college education, and the overwhelming majority had cancer.

Complete Article HERE!


My church seeks to deny a compassionate death … a good death … to those crying out for it


A MINISTER of the Church of Scotland has broken ranks with the Kirk and spoken out in support of a new bill to legalise assisted dying – despite longstanding opposition from the Christian community.

The Reverend Scott McKenna said the religious arguments put forward by opposing faith groups, including his own church, “do not stand up” and believes voluntary euthanasia can “sit comfortably” within Christian faith.

He delivered a powerful speech at a conference chaired by Independent MSP Margo MacDonald, who has launched a second bid to legalise voluntary euthanasia.

The Kirk and the Catholic Church have come out strongly against the reform. But research suggests more than 80% of the British public is in favour of change.

The event, held at the Royal Society of Edinburgh on World Dignity in Dying Day, also brought together Ludwig Minelli, founder of the Swiss suicide clinic Dignitas, international representatives from the Right to Die movement, and Jane Nicklinson, widow of the late Tony Nicklinson, who this year campaigned for the right to die.

McKenna, Kirk minister at Mayfield Salisbury in Edinburgh, said his views had been shaped by supporting families through the death of a relative suffering from a terminal illness.

“The Church says, ‘You must not kill, ‘You must not take human life’. ‘God has forbidden it’,” he said. “What is wrong with this argument? There is no such commandment.”

“In the Bible, David killed Goliath, David’s armies killed thousands. In the Book of Exodus, in the original language, Hebrew, the sixth commandment is ‘You must not kill unlawfully’. This is a staggering difference. In the Bible there are circumstances in which killing is legally and morally acceptable, such as in battle or executing a death sentence. I am not offering you an obscure interpretation of scripture. It is mainstream: the Church is wrong.”

He said the Church’s other main argument, that life is a gift from God and only God can choose the moment of death, was also “deeply flawed.”

He said: “We are told that we shouldn’t interfere with God’s plan by shortening human life. This is bad theology. It portrays God as brutal and less loving than we are to our pets. When the Church speaks of compassion, it means to ‘stand in someone else’s shoes’ – yet too often the church seem distant, cold and paternalistic. They know best and, based on a flawed theology, seek to deny a compassionate death, a good death, to those crying out for it.”

The minister has previously campaigned in support of gay clergy and same-sex marriage. He delivered a sermon on assisted dying at last Sunday’s service and said the response from the congregation was overwhelmingly positive.

He said: “Almost everyone is speaking from personal experience. They have been at the bedside of a relative. I know people who have gone into a hospice and the family members know they only have a day left. Once they are pumped full of drugs they lasted 14 days. Why is that good?”

McKenna also said his position was supported by some Catholic theologians.

“Anecdotally there are significant Roman Catholic theologians who are in favour but you won’t hear that from the hierarchy. The churches can continue to have their own view but they shouldn’t be allowed to impose it. I hope that compassion will triumph over religious dogma and the decision to die be seen not as suicide or life-defeating but as life-enhancing and an act of immense faith.”

In its consultation response on the issue of the right to die, the Church of Scotland said: “We believe that any legislation which endorses the deliberate ending of a human life undermines us as a society. The Catholic Church has said the legislation would “cross a moral boundary”.

Complete Article HERE!