Tag Archives: death

California passes right-to-die law

131754-gov-jerry-brown_1This past week, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed a bill into law that makes it legal for a dying person to end his or her life.  When Brown signed the bill, he also released a letter to the state assembly explaining why he agreed to sign it.

He said, “The crux of the matter is whether the State of California should continue to make it a crime for a dying person to end his life, no matter how great his pain or suffering.  In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death.”

“I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain,” Brown wrote. “I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.”

The law requires that patients are able to administer the life-ending drug themselves.  Also, their decision must be submitted in written form, signed by two witnesses and approved by two doctors.

California becomes the fifth state to have a right-to-die law.  New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont and Washington are the others.

For more information about end-of-life decisions, go to www.diesmart.com.

One thing you should do when putting your affairs in order

A friend sent this to me the other day.  I thought it was worth sharing.

The doctor, after an examination, sighed and said, “I’ve got some bad news.
You have cancer, and you’d best put your affairs in order.”

The woman was shocked, but managed to compose herself and walk into the waiting room where her daughter was waiting.

‘Well, my dear daughter, we women celebrate when things are good, and we celebrate when things don’t go so well.

In this case, things aren’t well. I have cancer. So, let’s head to the club and have a martini.’

After 3 or 4 martinis, the two were feeling a little less somber. There were some laughs and more martinis.

They were eventually approached by some of the woman’s old friends, who were curious as to what the two were celebrating.

The woman told her friends they were drinking to her impending end, ‘I’ve been diagnosed with AIDS.’   The friends were aghast, gave the woman their condolences and beat a hasty retreat.

After the friends left, the woman’s daughter leaned over and whispered, ‘Momma, I thought you said you were dying of cancer, and you just told your friends you were dying of AIDS! Why did you do that?’

‘Because I don’t want any of those bitches sleeping with your father after I’m gone.’

And THAT, my friends, is what is called, ‘Putting Your Affairs In Order.’

Actually, she could protect her money by setting up a trust to ensure that her children got her money, not her husband’s new sweetie.   But it’s still a good story,

For more information about estate planning, wills and trusts, go to www.diesmart.com.

The “Aid in Dying” movement – is it a good idea?

According to an article that appeared a few days ago in the New York Times,  there is a new movement in the United States called “Aid in Dying”.  It’s supporters try to avoid calling it what it really is – assisted suicide – but, whatever they call it, it’s gaining traction.   

Until 2008, assisted suicide was legal in just one state: Oregon.  Today, it’s legal in five states: Montana, Oregon, Washington, Vermont and New Mexico.  Supporters of the right for a terminally ill patient to choose aid in dying are supporting “death with dignity” bills in Connecticut and other states. 

Lawsuits in New Mexico and Montana related to this topic have resulted in a differentiation between aid in dying, which is now legal, and assisted suicide, which is still considered a crime in both of those states. 

Church groups have weighed in on the topic and claim that aid in dying is morally wrong.  However, more and more people are asking for the right to die on their own terms according to Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices.  

In May 2013, a Gallup Poll was conducted.  It asked whether doctors should be allowed to “end the patient’s life by some painless means” when patients and their families want it.  70% said yes.  However, when asked whether doctors should be allowed to help a dying patient “commit suicide”, only 51% said they should.  It’s clear that the exact wording is critically important in assessing how people really feel about the issue and on what is actually legal. 

What do you think?  Should aid in dying be made legal in your state?

To learn more about other topics related to death, go to www.diesmart.com.

Planning for Incapacity or Death: “A Cranky Old Man”

A friend sent me this poem by a “Cranky Old Man”. It has a message that all of us should think about as we care for elderly or incapacitated family members.

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through his meagre possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet.

Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . … . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .’I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . … lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . ..my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. …Babies play ’round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future … . . . . I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . And the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
It’s jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. …. . ME!!

Everyone needs a will. Do you have one?

It is critically important for everyone to have a will.  If you don’t have one, your wishes may not be carried out.  Why? 

First of all,  every state has laws covering what is called “dying intestate” (without a will).  These rules strictly dictate who will receive what from your estate. 

Let’s look at one example.  You have two children.  The first child worked his way through college and didn’t take any money from you.  You paid all of the fees associated with the second child getting a degree and consider that money an advance on that child’s future inheritance.  So you would like the first child to receive 75% of your assets and the second to get only 25%.  However, when you die, you do not have a will which specifies this.  According to the laws in many states, both of your children will share equally in your estate.

You may feel sentimental about some of your possessions.  Maybe you have a few special pieces of jewelry and know to which member of your family you wish to give each one.  Without a will, your wishes don’t count.

A will is also a good place to specify what you want your family to do with your body after you die.  Perhaps you wish to be buried; however, they may not know and this and may cremate your body instead.

This week, I read two interesting blogs which reminded me of  how important a subject this is.  Both, interestingly enough, come from outside of the United States. 

 The first comes from Ghana and begins by talking about the late Colonel Momar Khadafi  You may not care what Khadafi’s wishes were or that they were not carried out despite the fact that he had a will.  However, later the blog talks about the writer’s father and how he set the precedent for everyone in his village to have a will. 

The second was written by a woman in British Columbia and is a sad story about a man who told his former doctor, and later friend, about his wishes.  However, he didn’t write them in a formal will.  When he died, the doctor contacted the coroner to try to ensure that the wishes were carried out.  Instead, the man’s body was turned over to the Public Guardian and Trustee (a government group) and his wishes were disregarded.

Consider getting your will written today.  Not only will it make it easier for your wishes to be carried out but will remove an extra burden from your family members when you die.

 For more information about this subject and other related topics check out our book “Die Smart, 11 Mistakes That Cost Your Family Money When You Die”.