Thomas Reed Jackson

Thomas Reed Jackson left a legacy of compassion and tenacity to the end-of-life care and options movement.
Thomas Reed Jackson seated in front of a parked train in the background.

“We have to change the paradigm. We have to change our way of thinking, and we have to adopt the idea of a legacy.”

Thomas Reed Jackson was a passionate advocate for having end-of-life conversations and improving end-of-life care. He passed away in 2022 at the age of 55, but left a lasting legacy in the lives of his family, loved ones and at Compassion & Choices. Thomas was a massage therapist and called himself a “jack of all trades, master of none” coming to his career later in life.

Thomas’ first experience with loss was in the 1980s, at the height of the AIDS crisis in the United States. He lost close friends, classmates and a cousin to the disease. This experience spurred him to start conversations about end-of-life planning because death is unpredictable, and not everyone dies of old age.

Talking about and preparing for death is for the people you leave behind when you die, according to Thomas. Thomas’ mother and father, Thomas and Marva Jackson, donated land and a walking trail to their community on the North Side in Gretna, Virginia when they died.

At a ceremony for the community, Thomas spoke and told the crowd that the theme of the day was legacy. He said, “What do you leave behind? Fortunately, we’re able to leave something behind for future generations.” He also alluded to his father, saying, “[my father] told me, and I’ll never forget it, son, all you have to be is the best you can be.”

Please watch the following videos to hear from Thomas and his family about legacy. Thomas also urged others to plan for the end-of-life experience you want. We are grateful to him for sharing his story with us and leaving a piece of his legacy with Compassion & Choices.

 

 

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