Seven-and-a-half years ago, I witnessed my husband’s death from an aggressive form of lymphoma. Three-and-a-half years ago, I was diagnosed with metastatic cancer that has spread from my breast to my bone marrow. These life-changing events have forced me to face the reality of mortality that most of us would prefer to ignore.
Before retiring, I spent four decades as a clinical social worker, including 20 years in a private psychotherapy practice. Because of both personal and professional experiences, I support the legal option of death with dignity for terminally ill, mentally competent adults with fewer than six months to live.
These laws authorize a physician to prescribe medication that will bring about a peaceful death at the time and place of the dying person’s choosing. They facilitate most people’s preference to die at home, surrounded by their loved ones, rather than in settings where it is not always possible to effectively control pain and suffering.