The year is quickly coming to an end, and the holiday season is upon us. 2022 has been difficult for many. There is ongoing uncertainty about the political and economic climate of our country, and we are still feeling the impact of the pandemic on how our society functions.
I feel these concerns myself, but what comforts me right now is the sense that we are in this together.
Thanksgiving can be a time of calm for some and chaos for others. Travel can be invigorating or completely exhausting. Some years I travel to be with family, but this year, I will be with friends and my chosen community. It will be quiet. I will be able to rest assured that campaign season is done and that the midterms did not have as negative an impact on our movement as I feared. And, I will finally read the true crime novel I’ve had on my nightstand for months.
This year, I am at peace, but that has not always been the case. I became a widow 29 years ago. I was just 27 years-old. And every Thanksgiving brings with it the looming anniversary of my husband’s death on December 8,1993.
I vividly remember his last Thanksgiving, just weeks before he died. He was actively dying from AIDS, and he was in immense pain. All he wanted was control over his death, but he didn’t get it.
I felt so alone. I didn’t have a community to turn to with my grief. But in the 29 years since his death I have been able to find my people. They supported me through the hardest period of my life. They helped me get through graduate school while raising a toddler as a single parent. My community surrounded me, and continues to do so to this day. I can laugh with them, cry when needed, and know my grief — grief I still feel today — is safely held with them.
This is what Thanksgiving means to me — shared community.
All of you are also part of my shared community. Our movement exists because we are like-minded in our belief that everyone deserves a good death. We can be grateful this time of year for everyone who is or has been a part of our community. We can celebrate with those still alive, miss those who have died, and honor the fight for autonomy at the end of our lives by continuing to advocate for Death with Dignity.
And we can also prepare for the future of our movement. Join me in making a year-end gift to Death with Dignity today to help increase access to this vital option.
I am so incredibly thankful Death with Dignity exists today. Together, we are helping families experience relief during the holidays because they know those close to them have control in making end-of-life choices. Please contribute today.
Chief Executive Officer