Ohio Officials Ordered To Recognize Gay Couple’s Marriage

Married on July 11 in Maryland, John Arthur is in hospice care and “certain to die soon.” He and his husband have sued to ensure their marriage is recognized by Ohio officials at Arthur’s death.

By Chris Geidner

A federal judge in Ohio ordered state officials Monday to recognize the marriage of two men that was performed in Maryland on the death certificate of an Ohio resident in hospice care who the judge says “is certain to die soon.”

John Arthur & husband“The end result here and now is that the local Ohio Registrar of death certificates is hereby ORDERED not to accept for recording a death certificate for John Arthur that does not record Mr. Arthur’s status at death as ‘married’ and James Obergefell as his ‘surviving spouse,’” Judge Timothy Black wrote in granting the couple a temporary restraining order Monday. The order is in effect until 5 p.m. Aug. 5, unless the court extends the order at a later date.

“By treating lawful same sex marriages differently than it treats lawful opposite sex

marriages,” the judge concluded, Ohio’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages and Ohio’s statute addressing the same issue “likely violate[] the United States Constitution.”

The couple’s attorney, Al Gerhardstein, said in a statement, “This order is a major step on the march toward marriage equality in Ohio.”

Addressing the constitutional question, Black explained, “Although the law has long recognized that marriage and domestic relations are matters generally left to the states, the restrictions imposed on marriage by states, however, must nonetheless comply with the [U.S.] Constitution.”

To that end, the court examined the Supreme Court’s decision striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act this June in United States v. Windsor, the 1996 decision in Romer v. Evans, and in other decisions addressing differential treatment found to be unconstitutional under the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection of the laws.

Looking at Ohio’s bans on recognizing same-sex couples’ out-of-state marriages, while acknowledging its recognition of the marriages of opposite-sex couples who would not be allowed to marry in Ohio, Black concluded, “The purpose served by treating same-sex married couples differently than opposite-sex married couples is the same improper purpose that failed in Windsor and in Romer: ‘to impose inequality’ and to make gay citizens unequal under the law.”

According to the order, Obergefell and Arthur live in Cincinnati, Ohio, and “have been living together in a committed and intimate relationship for more than twenty years.” The order also notes “they were very recently legally married in the state of Maryland pursuant to the laws of Maryland recognizing same sex marriage.”

The order notes that Arthur is dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which prompted the couple to fly to Maryland on July 11 to get married.

As Black put it, the couple “traveled to Maryland in a special jet equipped with medical equipment and a medical staff necessary to serve Mr. Arthur’s needs, whereupon Plaintiffs were married in the jet as it sat on the tarmac in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. They returned to Cincinnati that same day.”

The lawsuit seeking to have the couple’s marriage recognized was filed against Gov. John Kasich and other state and local officials on July 19.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office defended the state’s laws in filings with the court on Monday, but Cincinnati city lawyers representing Dr. Camille Jones, the vital statistics registrar for the city, declined to defend the law, telling the court, “The City will not defend Ohio’s discriminatory ban on same-sex marriages,but the City’s vital statistics registrar is bound to follow Ohio law until that law is changed or overturned.”

Asked about the court’s issuance of the order on Monday evening, Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols told BuzzFeed, “We don’t comment on pending litigation other than to say the that the governor believes that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Complete Article HERE!

To get married, they left Ohio

Crossroads Hospice offers the gift of a perfect day to its patients, a chance for the dying to do something they’ve always dreamed of. One man asked to ride an Indian motorcycle for his 100th birthday; an extended family went on a bus tour to view Christmas lights; a woman flew to Florida to stick her feet in the sand one last time, then died three hours after she came home.

 

 

John Arthur’s been a patient of Crossroads since March, but it wasn’t until June 26 that he settled on his notion of a perfect day. That morning the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. As he watched the announcement from a medical bed in his Over-the-Rhine condo, Arthur and his partner of 20 years, Jim Obergefell, decided that they wanted to marry.

photo2A wedding for the couple would not be easy. Because same-sex marriage is illegal in Ohio, and because the Supreme Court ruling left marriage bans at the state level intact, Arthur and Obergefell couldn’t marry here. The prospect of travel was difficult because Arthur is bedridden with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a progressive neurological disease that robs patients of their ability to walk, talk and eventually breathe. Within minutes of the Supreme Court decision, the couple started working the phones, email and social media to figure out how they might legally wed.

New York was the closest to drive to, but they’d both need to be there for the license and return for the wedding. Out, they decided.

California and Washington, and the knot of northeastern states that have legalized same-sex marriage, were too far.

Maryland required only one partner to come for the license. Then a 48-hour waiting period.

It was an hour and 10-minute flight.

This might work, they decided: A destination wedding in Baltimore.

Then there was the cost.

Arthur has been unable to leave the couple’s home since March, and he’d need a medical transport plane that could accommodate a stretcher. Though hospice could provide some services, like the ambulance ride to the airport, it couldn’t cover the $12,700 cost of renting such a plane.

Obergefell asked friends if they had any connections. Instead donations poured in from relatives, friends, former co-workers, even someone in Ireland they’d met on a cruise. They covered enough of the cost to make the trip possible.

Obergefell flew to Baltimore on Tuesday, obtained the marriage license and flew back a few hours later.

And then on Thursday Arthur and Obergefell boarded a Lear jet at Lunken Airport with a nurse, two pilots trained in emergency medicine, and Arthur’s aunt, Paulette Roberts, who’d been ordained to perform weddings with the hope that she’d someday get to do theirs.

They touched down in Baltimore at 10:39 a.m. The plane parked off the runway and the pilots stepped outside.

And then, in the cramped cabin of the jet, Obergefell seated next to Arthur’s stretcher, the couple turned to each other and held hands. Roberts sat behind them and began to speak.photo3

“When I obtained ordination and license to marry people, I called my nephew John and told him I would go anywhere, anytime to officiate at his and Jim’s marriage,” she said. “He and Jim both said no. They were married to each other in their eyes, but that they would not take part in a wedding ceremony until the law of the land declared they were equal to other couples.”

“Twenty-six months ago John was diagnosed with ALS,” she continued. “Since then the amazing relationship between John and Jim has become even closer, even more devoted, even more loving – and it was pretty damn great before John became ill.”

Obergefell spoke, choking back tears. They exchanged rings. Roberts pronounced them husband and husband, and Obergefell leaned over to Arthur and kissed him.

“Let us all rejoice,” Roberts said, as she leaned forward to hug them both. “I love you very much.”

“That was beautiful,” Arthur responded, his voice thickened and slowed by his disease. “And thank you for including the word ‘damn.’ ”

The 7 1/2 minute ceremony was over, and as they celebrated with Champagne, the pilots climbed back in and prepared to leave. After 56 minutes on the ground they were headed back to Cincinnati, matching rings on their left hands, finally married after 20 years, six months and 11 days together.

“I’m overjoyed,” Arthur said. “I’m very proud to be an American and be able to openly share my love for the record. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world.”

Arthur and Obergefell’s story is a dramatic example of what gay couples who live in states that don’t recognize same-sex marriage are experiencing in the wake of the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision. Trapped between federal law that recognizes such unions and state laws that don’t, they are unsure what their next move should be.

Like Arthur and Obergefell, many of them never expected to have a chance to wed in their lifetimes. But now with the prospect of marriage so close, they are impatient with the prospect of waiting still longer for their state to allow it.

Arthur’s terminal illness added urgency to the questions that many gay couples without the protection of marriage grapple with. Ask such couples why they want to get married, and after the jokes about housewares and bridesmaids subside, the talk often turns to the dark what-ifs that reside at the end of life.

photo4What if my partner’s in cardiac arrest and the emergency-room staff won’t let me in? What if my partner’s family challenges my custody of our son after she’s gone? What if, as in the case of the DOMA plaintiff, my partner dies and I owe $363,000 in estate taxes instead of the nothing that a heterosexual spouse would owe?

Arthur’s ALS diagnosis intruded on the life the couple had carefully built together over two decades. Though they met twice, rather unremarkably, through a friend in 1992, at Arthur’s New Year’s Eve party that year they experienced what they call “love at third sight.” Within seven weeks they had exchanged rings, and that summer they moved in together. “Jim came to our wild New Year’s Eve party,” Arthur said, “and he never left.”

Through new houses, job changes and extensive travel, they accumulated dozens of close friends and enjoyed the company of family. As same-sex marriage became legal in a handful of states, people asked if they’d considered going somewhere to marry, but the notion of a symbolic ceremony with no tangible benefit didn’t appeal to them. Even less appealing was the idea of moving somewhere new simply to enjoy the right to be married.

“Jim and I met here in Cincinnati. We have established our friends and family circle here,” says Arthur. “Even though we thrive on local conflicts and the absurdity of what happens in the great state of Ohio, we’ve never seriously considered moving because to move we wouldn’t have our social base. So it’s never been a real consideration.”

“And we both love Cincinnati. It’s a great city to live in,” adds Obergefell, who works as a consultant for an IT company. “We can’t imagine living anywhere else. And leaving the support network we have wasn’t really an option. Since his diagnosis that’s been even more important because our friends our family have been unbelievably supportive and helpful, and it’s made this horrible situation with ALS much more bearable, and enjoyable, amazingly enough.”

In the two-plus years since the diagnosis, Arthur has progressed from a cane to a walker to a manual wheelchair and then a motorized one. For a time the couple drove a minivan, a vehicle they never dreamed they’d own, because it was easier for John to get in and out of it. Since the spring they’ve relied on friends to come by for visits, as leaving the house finally became too difficult.

They’ve been touched by small kindnesses at every turn: Arthur’s former babysitter who’s corresponded regularly with him, a friend’s five-year-old who drew a picture of the couple that’s now framed on the wall, the friends who’ve shown up en masse for a brief hour or two of levity.

The couple, both 47, belong to a sandwich generation when it comes to gay rights, wedged between previous generations who were often firmly closeted, and younger gays and lesbians who have grown up seeing same-sex couples on television. Arthur and Obergefell say they’ve never known discrimination personally, never had a family member reject them because of their sexual orientation, never considered it more than a small part of who they are.

“We’ve always been out at work,” Arthur said. “But we’ve never been our own personal Pride parade either,” Obergefell added.

But the lack of a marriage license took on new meaning in light of the ALS diagnosis. The disease attacks the nerve cells that control the muscles we move voluntarily. As the nerve cells die, patients are unable to move their arms or legs; eventually the muscles that control breathing are also affected. It is a cruel and relentless disease that kills most patients between two and five years after diagnosis. There is no cure.

Arthur’s symptoms began innocently enough in the spring of 2011, with a left foot that seemed to drag and slap. The couple was preparing for a trip to Finland to visit exchange students they’d hosted. When they returned he went to their primary-care doctor, who sent him to a neurologist. Though there is no definitive test for ALS, the neurologist eliminated other possibilities and told Arthur his conclusion.

“I had no idea that would be the diagnosis. It caught me by surprise,” he says, tearing up at the memory. “I just remember I came in the door and turned to Jim and said, ‘I have ALS.’ Without even anything close to a full understanding of the implications, it was a very painful moment.”

Health insurance had been an ongoing issue for the couple, as some employers allowed them to share a policy and others didn’t. But insurance and other health-related matters suddenly took on added significance. Still reeling from the news, they had to prepare powers of attorney and other legal documents designed to circumvent the kinds of problems every unmarried couple fears.

They decided to sell their two-story condo and move to a single story, and they put the new place in Obergefell’s name alone to avoid any future probate problems. Obergefell’s employer has allowed him to work from home, but he has had no protection under the federal Family Medical Leave Act.

It’s unclear whether that will change now that they are married. No one knows what federal benefits couples would qualify for if they live in states that don’t recognize their marriages. Some benefits are granted based on where a couple lives, and others on where they were married. Leaving a state of residence that bans gay marriage to marry in one that allows it could further complicate things. The federal government is working now to untangle the confusion, but it could be years before it’s all sorted out.

Critics of allowing same-sex marriage argue that there are ways to extend legal protections to couples, to make sure they are never shut out of a partner’s hospital room or taxed extra because of their status, without changing the meaning that marriage has held for centuries. They want to create a “separate but equal” category for gay couples, a strategy that’s never succeeded in other questions of civil rights.

But in addition to rights, there is the question of recognition. To have one’s relationship viewed as equal to those of straight couples, to be able to check “married” on surveys and tax returns, is as important as the rights and protections that a valid marriage confers.

“In our minds we’ve always been married, but now I can actually say John’s my husband and have a piece of paper, and a Supreme Court ruling, and a federal government that says yes, he is your husband,” said Obergefell. “I’m overjoyed that we’ll now have a piece of paper that confirms what we’ve always known in our hearts – that we’re an old, married couple who still love each other.”

Next year Ohioans will likely have the chance to vote on whether to repeal the 2004 ban on gay marriage and allow same-sex couples to marry here. There are economic arguments in favor of repealing the ban, as many large companies prefer an environment in which all their employees enjoy the same rights. There is the argument that society benefits when it encourages loving, committed relationships and helps them flourish. And as Ohio combats brain drain, repealing the ban on same-sex marriage could help make the state more attractive to the many young adults who now leave for urban centers out of state.

But we believe this is the strongest argument of all: That couples who are already fulfilling the responsibilities of marriage, caring for each other in sickness and in health, should enjoy the privileges of marriage as well. They should be able to depend on the rights that many of us take for granted. They should be able to raise their children without having to carry adoption papers on a flash drive around their neck, and own property together without worry of what will happen to it upon death. They should be able to marry in the presence of family and friends, no matter where they live, and finally feel like full citizens no matter whom they love.

Complete Article HERE!

Israeli rabbi: Weed is kosher if it’s medicinal

An Israeli Orthodox rabbi ruled that distributing and smoking medicinal marijuana is kosher, but using weed for fun is forbidden.

medical_marijuana1Efraim Zalmanovich, the rabbi of Mazkeret Batia, a town south of Tel Aviv, made the distinction in a recent halachic ruling, NRG, the news site of the Maariv daily reported on Friday. Leading rabbis frequently weigh in on matters of reconciling halacha, or Jewish law, with modern living.

Zalmanovich’s ruling modifies an opinion by Rabbi Hagai Bar Giora,who in March told Israel’s Magazin Canabis: “If you smoke it, there is no problem whatsoever.”

Zalmanovich, the author of a book on alcoholism in Judaism, said: “Taking drugs to escape this world in any excessive way is certainly forbidden.”

However, if the drug is administered to relieve pain, then the person giving it is “performing a mitzvah,” and the person using the drug is using it “in a kosher fashion.”

Some 11,000 Israelis use medicinal marijuana, including people with post-traumatic disorders and Parkinson’s disease, according to the Israeli health ministry.

Complete Article HERE!

Deaths With Dignity

Rear Adm. Chester Nimitz Jr. and Joan Nimitz planned their suicides with military precision.

By Lewis M. Cohen

NimitzLast month, following a decade of bitter political combat, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act. Passage of the bill was a bittersweet triumph for the governor, who had made it part of his election platform and then encountered fierce opposition from a coalition of leaders from the Roman Catholic hierarchy and from representatives from the disability community and socially conservative organizations that also dispute the legitimacy of same-sex marriage, abortion, and contraception. Vermont is now the fourth state to make it legal for a physician to prescribe lethal medication to a terminally ill, mentally competent patient who wants to end his life and to offer immunity from criminal prosecution to doctors, family members, and friends who wish to participate. Vermont has also become the first state from New England to officially accept this treatment option, which has been available in Oregon, Washington, and Montana. The new law is an important step forward for the death with dignity movement.

When I mention this movement, people often look mystified. Explaining that it is the same phenomenon as “aid in dying” merely results in additional perplexity. It’s only when I say, “physician-assisted suicide” that the coin drops and they recall Jack Kevorkian—the original Dr. Death—or perhaps Derek Humphry, author of Final Exit and founder of the Hemlock Society. At this point in the conversation, many enthusiastically identify themselves as staunch advocates while others just as vociferously announce they are fervent opponents. And then there are the few individuals who suddenly break eye contact and start inching away. The latter are a reminder this is not only an extremely private and sensitive subject but that the act of hastening death is a cardinal sin if you’re Catholic and a potent taboo regardless of one’s religious affiliation or lack thereof.

What almost all of these people have in common is a lack of facts or experience upon which to base their opinions. Whether they love or hate the idea of physician-assisted suicide or are simply creeped out, it is unlikely that they have encountered anyone or even heard a narrative of someone who has resorted to using it as an option at the end of life; they are similarly unfamiliar with doctors or loved ones who have helped a patient to die. Because physician-assisted suicide has been illegal, complex, and intensely private, the stories have remained in the shadows. Even when they are recounted, the subject of suicide is so morbidly powerful that most people psychologically protect themselves by promptly forgetting the narrative or quickly switching the mental channel.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last year, during the time of the Massachusetts Death with Dignity ballot initiative, I learned about Rear Adm. Chester W. Nimitz Jr. and his wife, Joan, from a brief article written by their daughter Betsy Nimitz Van Dorn that appeared in the Cape Cod Times. The couple died on Jan. 2, 2002, and after a fleeting spate of publicity, the story disappeared from public attention. I was able to speak with Van Dorn for a more intimate perspective of her parents and their decision.
Joan Nimitz was born in England, trained as a dentist, and came to America for specialty training in orthodontia. Like many women of her generation, after meeting and falling in love with her future husband, she had little opportunity to practice her profession and instead devoted herself to raising their three daughters and furthering her husband’s career.

As a Navy wife, she led a peripatetic existence, moving the family every year to a new base in a strange city often located in a foreign country. She oversaw her children’s upbringing single-handedly during the extended periods in which her husband was at sea. By age 89, Nimitz suffered severe osteoporosis, bone fractures, and the constant pain of peripheral neuropathy. Although she and her husband loved golf, this pursuit was no longer possible, and because she was becoming blind with macular degeneration, she was unable to indulge her passion for reading.

Chester Nimitz Jr., at age 86, was a bonafide military hero and the son of the legendary World War II Pacific fleet admiral—Chester Nimitz Sr.—who was responsible for defeating the Japanese navy in the Battle of the Coral Sea, the critical Battle of Midway, and in the Solomon Islands campaign. Chester Nimitz Jr. graduated from the Naval Academy and served on a submarine, the USS Sturgeon, during World War II. He was awarded the Silver Star, which was presented by his father at Pearl Harbor. Nimitz was transferred to command of another submarine, the USS Haddo, and was awarded the Navy Cross and a Letter of Commendation with Ribbon. The Navy Cross citation reads in part, “For outstanding heroism in action during her Seventh War Patrol in restricted enemy waters off the West Coast of Luzon and Mindoro in the Philippines from 8 August to 3 October 1944.” The citation goes on to say, “Valiantly defiant of the enemy’s over powering strength during this period just prior to our invasion of the Philippines, the USS Haddo skillfully pierced the strongest hostile escort screens and launched her devastating attacks to send two valuable freighters and a transport to the bottom. … The Haddo out-maneuvered and out-fought the enemy at every turn launching her torpedoes with deadly accuracy despite the fury of battle and sending to the bottom two destroyers and a patrol vessel with another destroyer lying crippled in the water.”

An interview recorded two months before his death was conducted at the Naval War College, and it reveals a man with no interest whatsoever in rehashing any brave exploits that took place in the war. When asked about his awards, he simply replied, “Yes, the patrols were all deemed successful. We got a combat star. In other words, we sank something all the time.”

Of greater concern to him in the interview was conveying his indignation over the penurious salary that he received during his time in the military that would not properly cover family expenses. After completing service in the Korean War and against Chester Nimitz Sr.’s express wishes, he left the Navy. He was recruited by Texas Instruments and later became the president of the Perkin-Elmer Corporation. According to his daughter, the first year he worked at Texas Instruments in Dallas he paid more in income taxes than he had cumulatively earned during 23 years in the Navy. Her parents did not lead especially lavish or self-indulgent lives but were extraordinarily generous to all of their progeny. Their mantra, Van Dorn says, was:

Chester Nimitz“We are not the kind of people that would ever want to leave any of our children a trust fund. We have given you decent educations, and you are fine on your own. We want the pleasure of watching our grandchildren go to great schools and summer camps and take trips and have adventures. That is the pleasure money can bring—not stockpiling it so some spoiled offspring can have it when he or she turns 21.”

Chester and Joan Nimitz were longtime members of the Hemlock Society, a national right-to-die organization that was organized in 1980. Hemlock’s philosophy—that people should be in charge of their deaths as well as their lives—appealed to them as meticulous managers. The Nimitzes freely discussed these beliefs with their children, and Van Dorn explained, “They always proclaimed that when they got sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, that they would do themselves in.”

This did not mean they wouldn’t take advantage of medical advances, and when the admiral developed coronary artery disease, he promptly underwent quadruple cardiac bypass surgery. However, after several years, his health began to noticeably deteriorate; he had frequent bouts of congestive heart failure, suffered gastrointestinal problems, lost 30 pounds, became incontinent, experienced chronic back pain, and began to fall at home. Like his wife, his vision became impaired, and he could no longer safely drive. Extensive evaluations and treatment at the best Boston teaching hospitals proved ineffective for this proud warrior.

Nurses were employed at their home to attend to Joan Nimitz’s worsening health problems, but the couple did not want to squander all of their money on such care. They were both appalled at the vast sums spent at the end of life to sustain people who were frail and sick and not likely to get better. They could clearly envision—and they rejected—the idea of spending their remaining years in a nursing facility.

The admiral particularly worried his heart condition might suddenly worsen and his wife would be unable to commit suicide by herself. Joan Nimitz confided to the children that she, too, feared that without her husband’s help, she would not be in a position to ingest the barbiturate pills they had been stockpiling.

The admiral told his daughter, “That’s the one last thing I have to do for your mother.”

According to Van Dorn, her father had a large file box labeled with a 3-by-5 note card upon which he had written with a magic marker, “When C.W.N. [Chester Williams Nimitz] Dies.” In it were his insurance policies, documents concerning his Navy pension, and so forth. This was intended to save the family from the frustrating task of scrambling around in search of these papers. He was a commander, and he wanted his death and its aftermath to be conducted with the precision of a military operation.

Throughout the fall and winter, the Nimitz couple explicitly discussed with the children their plan. It followed the suggestions in the book Final Exit. When ready, they would begin with an anti-nausea suppository, followed by the sleeping pills, chased with a little of their beloved Mount Gay Rum with a squeeze of lime and soda, and maybe a little peanut butter to settle their stomachs. The last step involved securing a plastic bag over their heads as a precaution in case the medication was not sufficiently lethal. The admiral was going to let his wife take the pills first and make sure she was dead before he followed her example. Van Dorn concluded, “None of it was particularly pretty. But they were just so determined and upbeat about all of it.”

On New Year’s Day in 2002, the Nimitz clan, including some grandchildren, assembled for lunch. They discussed the football games, embraced, and quietly praised the patriarch and matriarch. Everyone was relatively subdued; the admiral and his wife were emotionally reserved individuals. The family members did not try to persuade them to change their minds, because they knew that this would be fruitless. They were confident that neither parent was depressed and their decision was entirely consistent with long-held beliefs.

The admiral had wanted one more chance to write tax-deductible checks for his children, their husbands, and grandchildren, and these were dated Jan. 2, 2002, and left in the apartment. He had seen a lot of deaths in World War II. Joan Nimitz had experienced the deaths of siblings, including one of her brothers, a British Royal Air Force pilot shot down in combat. Death was no stranger to this devoted couple and held no fear. After their family went home, Chester and Joan Nimitz wrote a suicide note that read in part, “Our decision was made over a considerable period of time and was not carried out in acute desperation. Nor is it the expression of a mental illness. We have consciously, rationally, deliberately, and of our own free will taken measures to end our lives today because of the physical limitations on our quality of life.”

After the police officially notified Van Dorn of the deaths, she brought out her father’s comprehensive list of people and telephone numbers. She divvied up the list with one of her sisters, and they called all of her parents’ closest friends to tell them what had happened before any word got into the newspapers. Almost universally the response was, “Yup, that’s your parents!”

In the spring when the ground thawed, the family convened in Cape Cod, Mass. It was a place filled with memories of summer barbecues and sailing expeditions. The ashes of the couple were interred; the younger children placed small keepsakes into the grave, such as a particular piece of Lego that reminded them of their grandparents; and family members spoke lovingly and respectfully of their progenitors.

In the ensuing years, Van Dorn has supported a number of nonprofit organizations, including Compassion & Choices, which along with the Death with Dignity National Center evolved from the original Hemlock Society. The efforts of these groups led to passage of the Vermont bill. Van Dorn appreciates that the law would not have directly helped her parents, as neither had a “terminal” disease. She understands that a civil rights movement, such as death with dignity, takes politically expedient and incremental steps. She anticipates that in the future the infirmities and suffering of advanced age may also qualify people to request this option (as is presently true in Belgium, Switzerland, and the Netherlands). Meanwhile, one more American state will allow its citizens further control at the end of life. And Van Dorn is looking forward to the day “when kids and their parents will regularly sit around the dining room table and talk about end-of-life issues the way you talk about college planning. Because, after all it is just another kind of planning.”

Complete Article HERE!

Is Death The Enemy?

“In the end, the marginal status our culture assigns to the end of life, with all its fear, anxiety, isolation and anger is inevitably what each of us will inherit in our dying days if we don’t help change this unfortunate paradigm.”

 

For many healing and helping professionals, death is the enemy. That doesn’t come as much of a surprise really. Everything in our training, as well as everything in our culture, underscores that mindset. But this principle can actually be counterproductive more often than we realize. I am of the mind that if we encounter our mortality in an upfront way, we will be able to demonstrate genuine compassion to our patients and clients as they face theirs.hospitalbed

Here are some things we might want to consider if encountering mortality is our goal:

  • Death isn’t only a universal biological fact of life, it’s also a necessary part of being human. Everything that we value about life and living — its novelties, challenges, opportunities for development — would be impossible without death as the defining boundary of our lives.
  • While it may be easier to accept death in the abstract, it’s often more difficult to accept the specifics of our own death. Why must I die like this, with this disfigurement, this pain? Why must I die so young? Why must I die before completing my life’s work or before providing adequately for the ones I love?
  • Living a good death begins the moment we accept our mortality as part of who we are. We’ve had to integrate other aspects of ourselves into our daily lives – our gender, racial background, and cultural heritage, to name a few. Why not our mortality? Putting death in its proper perspective will help us appreciate life in a new way. Facing our mortality allows us to achieve a greater sense of balance and purpose in our life as well.
  • Dying can be a time of extraordinary alertness, concentration, and emotional intensity. It’s possible to use the natural intensity and emotion of this final season of life to make it the culminating stage of our personal growth. Imagine if we could help our sick, elder, and dying clients and patients tap into this intensity. Imagine if we had this kind of confidence about our own mortality.

We healing and helping professionals can actually help pioneer new standards of a good death that our patients and clients can emulate. We are in a unique position to help the rest of society desensitize death and dying. And most importantly, we would be able to support our patients and clients, as well as those they love, as they prepare for death. We could even join them as they begin their anticipatory grieving process.EndOfLifeCareSOS024HIRESsmall

If we face our mortality head-on we will understand how difficult it is for our sick, elder, and dying patients and clients. We will be more sensitive to their striving to regain lost dignity by actively involving themselves in the practical preparations for their own death. If we can project ourselves to the end of our lives we will better understand our patients and clients as they try to negotiate pain management, choose the appropriate care for the final stages of their dying, put their affairs in order, prepare rituals of transition, as well as learn how to say goodbye and impart blessings.

Facing our mortality may even allow us to help our patients and clients learn to heed the promptings of their mind and body, allowing you to move from a struggle against dying to one of acceptance and acquiescence.

In the end, the marginal status our culture assigns to the end of life, with all its fear, anxiety, isolation and anger is inevitably what each of us will inherit in our dying days if we don’t help change this unfortunate paradigm.

On The Radio with Chris MacLellan — Tuesday, 01/08/13

I’m delighted to announce that I will be sharing the airwaves with my friend and colleague, Chris MacLellan, from Be A Healthy Caregiver fame.  We’ll be on blogtalkradio Tuesday, 01/08/13 at 1:00pm eastern time and 10:00am west coast time.

Find all the information HERE!

Come and join the conversation; you’ll be so glad you did!

And be sure to visit Chris on his site, The Purple Jacket and follow him on Twitter @TheBowTieGuy.

See Ya Tuesday!

healthy caregiver