Read Dr. Sandeen’s 4th of July message and let us know what your final freedoms are at the end of life.

A bucket list. Like many of you, I have one – that list of things I want to accomplish, see, or experience before I die. Being the political nerd that I am, one of the things on my bucket list is to visit every state capitol building in the United States. And when I’m in a state capitol building, I read that state’s constitution and contemplate our country’s monumental founding documents, like the Bill of Rights. 

Lately, I’ve begun to view our country’s founding documents through the lens of people who are terminally ill or dying. I know that while there are fundamental freedoms that should be guaranteed to individuals who are dying, these concepts are not discussed publicly. While we often talk about end-of-life care logistics, we rarely articulate the core dignity dying individuals deserve.

That is why for the Fourth of July, I want to bring to the forefront the rights I believe all terminally ill individuals should enjoy. Over the next week, we are gathering your input on the essential rights that honor the dignity and autonomy of all terminally ill individuals.

To celebrate the Fourth of July will you join me in sharing what you think of as fundamental freedoms at the end of life? It can be anything that you feel is important, no matter how big or small. 

As someone who has made a career in the death and dying space, it is all too rare that we take time to consider the fundamental questions of end-of-life care. Do patients have a right to have their pain addressed fully and adequately or to get complete and medically accurate information regardless of their doctor’s opinion on their condition? 

How do we address healthcare inequities for BIPOC communities, when the very healthcare systems of this country are structurally racist and routinely result in lower quality end-of-life treatment? Don’t all terminally ill patients deserve a right to equitable, dignified care without regard to race or ethnicity?

Our movement will lead the way to a public reckoning about how our freedoms slip away when we are diagnosed with a terminal illness. It is time for us to appreciate that for every protected right and freedom we believe we have, there is a gap when it comes to the rights of dying individuals. 

For this Fourth of July holiday, take a minute and think about what rights you want for yourself and your loved ones, and help us draw awareness about the freedoms we should have at the end of life. 

What will be your final freedom?

Sincerely, 

Peg Sandeen
Chief Executive Officer