I’ve followed with interest the coverage on assisted-dying legislation and hospice. I like that dying is becoming a more public conversation. It needs to be. I applaud the Press Herald for publishing on the topic.

I’m concerned that some stories promote an idealized version of dying: a calm patient in a bed surrounded by loving family members, friends and care providers in a peaceful setting.

While some do have this idealized version of dying, it’s important to acknowledge death is also ugly, messy, full of body fluids and sometimes accompanied by misery and inability to cope with conventional approaches.

Some are intolerant of medications and some, quite frankly, are bone-weary tired and ready to go. I’ve witnessed more often than not the more difficult side of our dying.

The option at end of life to go when ready is not legally available in Maine. The dying have a choice to refuse food and water (taking up to 15 days for death).

Some stockpile medications. Some refuse life-sustaining treatments and die shortly after machines are turned off or treatments stopped. Some linger, suffer and want to go, but don’t have that legal option. Some get underground help.

Before Maine’s citizens agree that current practices provide everything we need at the end of their lives, it’s critical to be open and painfully honest about how some dying isn’t pretty to look at, experience or write about. Some can be downright agonizing and horrifying, despite best efforts to aid the process. Assisted-dying legislation provides one more option for a small number of citizens who need a different choice.

It’s a mistake to believe we already have all the answers and approaches to our dying that we will ever need. It isn’t so.

Valerie Lovelace

Westport Island