Elizabeth Bristow: All humans deserve ‘death with dignity’

Published: 5/3/2020 8:20:49 AM

Death is on our minds these days. Typically it’s a subject we don’t want to talk about, but now more than ever we need to face it directly and acknowledge that death comes for everyone eventually.

While our area legislators are doing all they can to provide medical and economic relief for our communities from the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, there is an important bill up for vote by May 30 called The End of Life Options Act (H-1926), also known as the Death with Dignity Act.

For many people this subject is difficult to discuss, but it is our responsibility to offer all humans the opportunity to live, and die, in ways that they see fit for themselves. As an end-of-life doula and hospice volunteer, I spend much time at the bedside of those who are dying. I have come to know the stages of death well.

I have seen beautiful deaths where people exit the world gracefully, painlessly. I have also seen wretched deaths where people suffer horribly, needlessly. It is for those who suffer needlessly that I urge everyone to support The End of Life Options Act.

Passing this bill will allow terminally ill, mentally competent patients the option to access life-ending prescription medication. It provides a compassionate option for those facing great pain and unrelieved suffering at the end of their lives. It offers choice for patients, and with choice comes dignity and compassion.

All humans deserve this. The End of Life Options Act is designed to protect people’s freedom and the liberty to make fundamentally personal decisions.

The COVID-19 crisis draws attention to the subject of death and the need for honoring and protecting the rights of the dying. Please join me in contacting your legislators and urging them to reach out to the Joint Committee on Public Health to support the passage of the End of Life Options Act (malegislature.gov/Legislators). Please also encourage your family and friends all over Massachusetts to do the same.

Elizabeth Bristow


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