Welcome to the 2018 Updates Edition for To Gently Leave This Life: The Right To Die. I began contemplating end-of-life issues after witnessing my mother’s slow and painful death from cancer. Five years ago, when I was researching and writing the first edition of this book, I anticipated many more states and countries to have enacted assisted dying legislation by now. Only six states and the District of Columbia have passed Death With Dignity laws. Only one more country, Canada, has legalized voluntary euthanasia. In 2014, the front-page story of Brittany Maynard – who was dying from brain cancer and forced to relocate to Oregon for a merciful death – seemed to reaffirm the public dialogue regarding an individual’s right to die. In 2015, I was stunned when my brother was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and I wrote about our torment in Traveling In and Out of Heaven. How can it be, in 2018, so many voices near and away, crying into the night in unbearable pain – pleading for a good death, a peaceful death, a compassionate death. When I wrote about Karen Quinlan, I could not have fathomed watching my own brother being attached to a respirator, as tears flowed down my cheeks, not knowing if I’d ever hear his voice again. All I could think of was Karen Quinlan trapped to that gurgling respirator in 1975. My tears were for her, as well. In 2014, I met Professor Sean Davison at a conference for the World Federation of Right-to-Die Societies in Chicago, and I was blown away by his beautiful and heartbreaking story, which I have included as a new chapter in this Updated Edition. The Last Waltz: Love, Death & Betrayal has all the elements of humanity: the good, the bad, and the ambivalent, who have chosen to walk through life with blinders since it’s easier than actually caring. Sean helped his mother to die because she begged him to – her agony had become excruciating. While her son crushed morphine tablets into a glass, she somehow managed to smile and whisper, “You are a wonderful son.” Sean was charged with her murder because he cared too much, because he loved her too much, because he could no longer bear to watch her suffer. To Gently Leave This Life is the perfect reference book for the grassroots activist, legislator, and for people who are dealing with their own or a loved one’s terminal illness. It is my aspiration that medical aid in dying will be approved throughout the U.S. and in countries across the globe. I invite you to read To Gently Leave This Life’s - 2018 Updates Edition to learn what you need to know about end-of-life decisions. Whenever possible, people deserve the right to choose a “gentle and happy” death.
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An Excellent Handbook on RTD Movement
"To Gently Leave This Life: The Right to Die is an excellent handbook for those who are living through the struggle now, and those new to the fight who are just realizing what could be in store for them when there is no way out of a prolonged, agonizing death. Elaine Feuer has succeeded in compiling the progress of the right-to-die movement in her carefully researched, helpfully illustrated, easily read short volume. This overview explains, especially to the naive reader, what the human tragedies were that precipitated changes in the law toward further control by patients to control their own deaths. She presents the safeguards and the modest use of these laws to reduce suffering at the end of life and the arguments against these changes. Right-to-die advocates around the world are moving fast, making it hard to keep such a book up-to-date, but Feuer has worked assiduously to make her information as accurate as possible, to demonstrate the importance of people being able to have more say about when and how the end will come.” Faye Girsh, President
World Federation of Right to Die Societies