I cannot share this group's enthusiasm for death. There are too many people in this world who need encouragement to live, not to kill themselves.
I learned about this organization when I was looking for a group that deals with my concerns about having a choice about how I might die. I have had many exchanges with the staff , and I have started working with a group in Clearwater FL. I think these issues are extremely important, and I like the thoughtful, caring way this organization approaches them.
I learned about this organization thru one of its staff--Jared Hughes. As a result of his sincere and knowledgeable presentation of the facts surrounding one's choices over end of life issues, I was blown away and quite overcome with enthusiasm for the mission of this distinguished group. I will never again look at end of life in the way that I did before. Now, when I meet others who are wrestling with similar issues, I point them to your website and repeat what I learned from Jared--with the utmost conviction in my heart. Yours is a vital and critically important organization--I'm so glad that you exist.
I first got involved with Compassion & Choices (then Compassion In Dying) when my mom was ill, about 10 years ago. I was so impressed with the support she received that I decided to volunteer on the local board, where I am now co-chair of the board.
My first introduction to the board members of Compassion and Choices of Northern California was most impressive. Having served on boards where the sole function was fund-raising and their sole goal was to have good times raising those funds...I immediately knew that C&C was different.
Not only the doctors on the board, but the health professionals and people (like myself) with no letters after their names, were deeply passionate about the cause. Their goal was to actually help people in distress (free of charge) as well as to spread the word that help was available, and one didn't have to die a painful, undignified, horrible death.
I saw that happen with my parents and I realize the unnecessary agony they endured. How wonderful that end-of-life choice is today a reality, and available to so many who would otherwise suffer needlessly.
I counsel clients of Compassion & Choices. They are self referred to the local chapter. I engage clients to explore their choices for medical care when they know they have only a few months to live. Their legal options include some that are not normally discussed by Hospice or their physician. I join my fellow volunteers on monthly phone conferences where politics, the law, and state and federal legislation is clarified. My only role in the Compassion and Choices organization is to promote autonomy and liberty for personal choices of medical care at the end of life.
My "honest and candid" experience has been nothing but positive. I'm uncertain exactly how we came in contact with Compassion & Choices. But I am certain it was a great thing that we did. Very few organizations are able to combine on the ground assistance to individuals and families in time of needs with pressing a legislative agenda and on the ground grass roots organizing. Somehow C & C manages all these things, with grace, punch and political savvy. They were helpful to me personally as my father was dying, and have been helpful in providing clear leadership in the step by step process of helping to bring ordinary folks and legislatures to understand the importance of being permitted to die with dignity. Several of my closest friends have gone through drawn out, terminal, end-of-lives. Some were lucky enough to have persons and family to help them make choices and have the ability to carry them out. Others were not so lucky, and suffered pain, indignity, and the misfortune of being trapped in hospitals when all they wished for was to die at home in the company of friends and family and with the comforts of a lifetime of nesting around them. Compassion fights at all levels to help people handle what is perhaps the most difficult time they will face. I give them every star I am permitted to give, and more.
When I raise the subject among friends about personal choice in dying, there is broad agreement that they would like to have control of their death. Since my training as a Compassion & Choices volunteer I have had excellent support from the professional team in being informed before visiting a client and throughout the process of supporting the client. I am pleased that Washington State has followed the Oregon model and am hopeful that my state, Florida will begin to see the light.
I was so pleased to be introduced to this organization who are effectively and efficiently dealing with an issue so dear to my heart. Contributing to this organisation, with both time and money, is one of the most rewarding things in my life. Compassion & Choices are the one organisation that advocates for individual autonomy and dignity through choices at the end of life AND for changes to the law across the country to increase the information and choices available to patients. My grandmother was able to make her own decisions regarding her death from cancer, and she died on her own terms at home with her family around her - it was truly a good death and one I wish everyone could emulate. C&C works to empower patients so that the medical system is more helpful and responsive to the dying. When someone is terminally ill it is an immense comfort to them (and their loved ones) to know that they can make the important decisions about the end of their life.
Thirty five years ago, when my parents were in their 60s, they wrote their first advanced directives. Every time we visited, they spoke passionately about their wishes not to be kept alive after quality of life was gone, nor to have money spent that could be used to help people in need. Now I’m in my 60s and I can see that many people still don’t have the opportunity to die peacefully and in the manner of their choosing. I’m grateful for Compassion & Choices’ commitment to keep this conversation alive until every state provides for end-of-life dignity.
Finding Compassion & Choices when my mother was diagnosed with late stage Ovarian Cancer was literally a life saver. Both my parents loved life, lived it fully, and always made clear that when they could no longer do so,they wanted to die with dignity. The counseling services and support we received were phenomenal. Once my mother knew that her end-of-life decisions could be honored, she lived the last months of her life with the same spirit and zest that characterized her. After she died, there was no question in my mind that I would work with Compassion and Choices to ensure that we can all have that same freedom of mind and heart at the end of life.
Friends sometimes ask me how I can work with clients who are dying. Isn't it difficult? Depressing? Here's my answer: I've been a volunteer with Compassion and Choices for more than four years and find it enriching, important work. Supporting patients and their families at a critical time is rewarding. One of my clients, S., diagnosed with terminal cancer ,wrote the following after finding Compassion and Choices: "I now have the knowledge that I don't have to suffer, and that information is enough to give me a new life. I simply needed to know that I could have control over my life." He died peacefully 20 months later. Whether it's assisting someone to complete an Advance Directive, talk to a doctor about end-of-life wishes, find a hospice, or just to be there to help a client make sense of the dying process, I find my work for Compassion and Choices deeply satisfying.
Compassion & Choices is THE national end-of-life choices organization. I have been a donor for many years and continue to be impressed with the creative and excellent work of the organization. C&C uses every tool possible to get its message of choice to the public, government officials and its members. This last year alone they passed a law in California, won a court case in Montana and passed a ballot measure in the state of Washington. On the client side, the care is supportive and responsive. C&C has helped pave the way for people across the country to know and exercise their choices at the end of life.
C&C has had a remarkable track record of success in helping patients, educating legislators, press and the public, and pushing for legislation that will permit Aid-in-Dying. The Washington victory this past November is a wonderful step forward, and supporters should feel very confident their contributions are being very well used.