Lori Novak is a registered nurse in Coon Rapids, Minnesota.

As a nurse I have seen many suffer in their final days. Then it happened to my family.

Lori Novak as a girl with her father

My dad battled chronic diseases for 25 years until last year when he was diagnosed with cardiovascular dementia and went blind due to a stroke. At that point he, a proud man who knew what was coming, wanted to die. He refused any further treatments and begged for anyone to take his life or for God to take him. For 9 months we had to watch my father continue to decline in a nursing home, cry for hours uncontrollably, and live his last days out in misery and confusion.

A few weeks ago, he had a fall or a stroke and progressively got worse. We had to watch him seize every 5 minutes, hallucinate, and cry out in uncontrollable pain from the headaches. He became incontinent, needed to be fed, and lay dying in a coma for 3 days before he took his final breath.

None of us—my family (I am one of four sisters) or my father—should have had to go through this and endure such suffering for so long. Having to explain his horrible dying process to my small children was eye opening; they shouldn’t have to go through what I went through, to watch their parents die the way my father did.

Lori Novak’s father with his grandson

All of this could have been avoided if my father had had the right to die with dignity. Everyone who is dying should have the choice to die without having to go through this long, drawn-out process and without their loved ones having to watch them suffer.

I can only hope that I will see in my lifetime the death with dignity bill passed in my state and states all across the United States.