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New Stories This Week: Melissa Wood, Christina Derwey, Holly Berg, Amy Neese, and Mary Klein

December 13, 2015

This week, we published five new stories, from California, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and two from Texas.

Christina Derwey: I Want to Have the Choice

Christina Derwey is a retired postal worker in Crescent City, California. She watched her stepfather die a protracted, agonizing death, and her mother a peaceful one using Oregon’s law.

To this day, when I think of my stepfather, all I can see is a shell of man riddled with pain. I still cry for him after all these years. When I think of my mother, I see her smiling face slowly going into a restful sleep. I can smile with her, thinking of how happy and at peace she was when she died.

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Melissa Wood: I Want to Be Able to Control My Ending

Melissa Wood is natural health professional in San Antonio, Texas. After watching both her parents die awful deaths, she survived her own cancer diagnosis.

When I was diagnosed with Stage III cervical cancer a year later, I swore I would never go through what my mom did. Everybody is going to die, whether it’s by accident, due to an injury, or from an illness. I’m okay with the accident and injury, but I refuse to suffer a life filled with suffering from a drawn-out illness. I want to be able to control my ending.

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Holly Berg: Right to Choose

Holly Berg is a healthcare professional in Lakeville, Massachusetts. Her mother died from leukemia earlier this year.

I know that if she’d had the choice of Death with Dignity my mom would have chosen it for herself just as she made all the other decisions in her life. If we’d had a Death with Dignity law in Massachusetts, my mom would not have to go through all the pain and suffering she did.

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Amy Neese: A Different Path

Amy Neese is a journalism teacher in Amarillo, Texas. A longer version of this story first appeared on Amy’s blog Life, Laughter and a Double Espresso and was reprinted on our website in 2014.

We held his hand as he agonized from morphine-resistant pain, and fought back tears when he told us he was ready to go. In the end, we sat beside him in hospice, waiting, praying for God to bring him peace. The process was torture on my sweet daddy; the experience was heartbreaking for us.

Meanwhile, Brittany died in her own bed, surrounded by family and listening to her favorite music. She still had her mind and her dignity.

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Mary Klein: Option of a Peaceful Death

Mary Klein is a retired journalist and artist in Washington, DC.

That end is in sight for me. I do not know how much longer I have to live. I have advanced ovarian cancer that has spread throughout my abdomen despite aggressive surgery and the most aggressive chemotherapy possible. I cannot be cured.

If I had the option of a peaceful death, a death with dignity, I might not use it, but it would bring me great comfort to know it is there. By having that option, I would have control over my own body—the control to decide to use the option or the control to decide not to use it.

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