Note From the CEO: August
A series of bittersweet experiences
by Kim Callinan
August 26, 2020
This month has been anything but usual. I can think of no other way to describe it than bittersweet. The usual slow down leading up to the new school year became a series of significant milestones, some incredibly joyful, others sad.
I recently dropped my daughter off to her first year of college. With my baby out of the house, I was left with a range of emotions I’m still trying to process.
The work we are doing here at Compassion & Choices has been the same. The month started with a welcome milestone — the first anniversary of New Jersey’s Medical Aid-in-Dying Act. Already the new law has given peace of mind to thousands of residents who otherwise would not have this option.
The good news continued when the American Ethical Union passed the Death With Dignity resolution by an overwhelming majority. Ethical societies around the country strive to make our lives more humane, to include advocating for medical aid in dying. It’s really a beautiful way to describe the work we do. Ensuring end-of-life care that reflects our wishes and priorities is, to put it simply, humane and ethical.
We also learned of the passing of several of our truly remarkable storytellers. Rev. Joseph Kitchen was a Maryland supporter working alongside other faith leaders from the state to advocate for Maryland’s medical aid-in-dying bill. John Radcliffe was a strong and persuasive advocate for the Hawai’i Our Care, Our Choice Act. We also lost Michael Saum, the first known terminally ill, transgender person in the nation to publicly advocate for medical aid in dying.
We mourn the loss of these courageous people — yet, I also can’t help but feel inspired by them. They were truly extraordinary people whose bravery and tenacity in supporting and advocating for end-of-life choice was heartening. Their courage has allowed us to take steps toward advancing autonomy and dignity at life’s end.
As August winds down, I hope you and yours stay well. I look forward to working with you to continue to break the cycle of traditional end-of-life care to one that puts all of us in the captain’s chair of our own last chapter.