I am the parent of a son able to access and utilize the Death with Dignity (“DWD”) option as a resident of Washington State in 2011. I support DWD legislation for Maine.

Our son, Ethan, contracted an aggressive form of cancer at age 41 that was untreatable and terminal.

He was born and raised in Maine, was a graduate of Yale with a Ph.D. from Stanford.  He had many friends, with two small children who he dearly loved. He chose a DWD option after studied reflection, and is more representative of the type of person who chooses it. At his side when he died were his wife, his closest friend from Maine, and both his parents.

His last days with them were a gift – he was still himself, though in substantial physical distress – not bedridden, semi-comatose, and in great pain as would have been his situation in a short time.

While in hospice care, that care was not effective to control his pain. Also, as can happen, the strong pain medications supplied for palliative purposes substantially diluted the quality of his life, such as cognitive ability and fatigue. Before his death he said in his column, “Living While Dying,” in Psychology Today, “I do not view (DWD) as ‘suicide’ (although that is a convenient term), because I would not really be choosing between living and dying. I would be choosing between different ways of dying. If someone wishes to deny me that choice, it sounds to me like they are saying:  I am willing to risk that your death with be slow and painful. Well, thanks a lot, that’s brave of you.”

Charles Remmel II


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