Today, at Writing Daze visiting author Robert Orfali makes a compelling case for legalized physician-assisted dying after he watched his wife die from cancer. We had the chance to ask him the following question.
Q: Our spouses become so much a part of us that it is hard to go on with live after they pass. Imagine you find a letter from your wife, Jeri, and it said, “Thanks for the adventures now go have your own adventures.” What would some of those adventures be?
|Robert Orfali and his wife Jeri|
A: Actually, Jeri left me with an assignment that has thrown me into a new adventure. On her dying bed, she told me, “I waited too long.” Being a cancer patient, Jeri was in support of physician assisted dying as it is practiced in the states of Oregon and Washington. Sadly, that was not an option for her in Hawaii where she died. My “adventure” is to help pass “Jeri’s Bill” in Hawaii to lift that cruel prohibition, and make it easier for people who are in Jeri’s situation.
As part of my new adventure I have published two books. The year after Jeri died, I wrote Grieving a Soulmate: The Love Story Behind Till Death Do Us Part. One year later, I came out with Death with Dignity: The Case for Legalizing Physician-Assisted Dying and Euthanasia. This last book is about how our end-of-life system works and how to make it better. I go over the good, the bad, and the ugly. I make a strong case that assisted dying complements hospice. By providing both, Oregon now has the best palliative-care system in America. Currently, I am working on passing the bill in Hawaii. It is a very exciting time.
To answer your question, Jeri pointed the way to a set of totally unexpected adventures. I feel like a voyager exploring this strange landscape we call “the end of life.” For the first time in my life, I am not in death-denying mode. Instead, I took on the issues of death and dying head-on. I’m exploring areas that most humans avoid. In the process, I have become an authority on the subject of death and dying. Yes, my life has taken a strange turn. Grief was a long meditation on death and dying. Now, I am exploring the legislative terrain.
One final thought. People, like me, who want to pass “Death with Dignity” laws have become society’s consumer watchdogs for the end-of-life system. I believe that assisted dying is the gold standard in palliative care. Jeri wanted to drink a “final cocktail” and die peacefully on her own terms. The cocktail sets the bar for a “good death.” Hospice and palliative care must be at least as good as the final cocktail alternative. In states where the cocktail option is available, the palliative care people have to work harder to meet the competition. They have a higher bar to meet. Reducing end-of-life suffering is a noble cause and an exciting adventure. Thank you, Jeri.
About Death with Dignity
In Death with Dignity, Orfali makes a compelling case for legalized physician-assisted dying. Using the latest data from Oregon and the Netherlands, he puts a fresh new slant on perennial debate topics such as “slippery slopes,” “the integrity of medicine,” and “sanctity of life.” His engaging writing style brings clarity to these issues. The content is thought-provoking; the arguments are well-researched, air-tight, and original.
This extraordinary book provides an in-depth look at how we die in America today. It examines the shortcomings of our end-of-life system. You’ll learn about terminal torture in hospital ICUs and about the alternatives: hospice and palliative care. With laser-sharp focus, Orfali scrutinizes the good, the bad, and the ugly. He provides an insightful critique of the practice of palliative sedation. The book makes a strong case that assisted dying complements hospice. By providing both, Oregon now has the best palliative-care system in America. Reading this book, above all, may help you or someone you care about navigate this strange landscape we call “end of life.” It can be your gentle and informed guide to “a good death” in the age of hospice and high-tech medical intervention.
Visit the author’s tour page at Pump Up Your Book
Read book excerpts at Death with Dignity
Purchase Death with Dignity in book or kindle format at Amazon
About Robert Orfali
Robert Orfali, the guru of client/server systems in the early days of Silicon Valley, co-authored three best-selling books that demystified the complexity of these mission-critical systems and made them understandable to a whole new generation of programmers. The books sold over a million copies. In this book, Robert uses his analytical skills to deconstruct the most complex system he has yet encountered: our modern end-of-life system. He wrote this book after helping his soulmate and coauthor, Jeri, navigate her death from ovarian cancer in 2009. The deep emotions Robert felt allowed him to look at how we die from a different perspective, another angle. Robert also wrote Grieving a Soulmate.