The Death with Dignity Act would allow terminally ill New Jerseyans to find a peaceful end to suffering. Through the loss of both of my sons and another family member from diseases like cancer and AIDS, I have come to embrace the concept of “death with dignity." There should be a safe, humane option for those who are experiencing terrible pain and suffering at the end of their lives.
I was born in Newark in 1936, and I’ve been part of the Newark community ever since. I am currently the aide and coordinator for the Seniors of the City of Newark, and am responsible for outreach and senior services to its 38 senior housing buildings.
In 1988, my uncle, who was suffering from cancer, committed suicide. I was very close to my uncle. He understood that taking his own life was considered a sin, realizing that the manner in which he took his life would devastate the family he loved so much. Nevertheless, after his cancer diagnosis, he felt he had no other choice but to end his own life, alone in his apartment with a single gunshot to his head.
The violent suicide of a close family member is what first led me to realize that legislation like the Death with Dignity Act is something we need to put in place. We must give terminally ill, suffering individuals the right to decide to end their lives in a peaceful manner, with family and loved ones by their sides, under the care of doctors. This bill will do just that.
Witnessing the painful manner in which my two sons died reinforced my belief in end-of-life choices even more.
In 1996, I was with my son Herbert during his final days as he endured the painful effects of AIDS. In 2006, I was with my son Rickey during his final days, as he endured the suffering associated with the long-term effects of diabetes. No mother should have to see the things I’ve seen. And no one in New Jersey should be forced to suffer through their diseases the way my sons were at the end of their lives.
I’m a Christian; I’m a social worker; I’m a public servant; I’m a daughter; I’m a mother; I’m a niece; I’m an aunt; I’m a grandmother — and I support the Death with Dignity Act.
Please help pass this bill in New Jersey to give this incredibly important choice to people suffering during the end of their life.