November 1, 2021
This Issue's Contents

Talking About Death
News Around the US: Massachusetts
Call to Action: Help Build Our Newsletter Reach!
Kem's Open Office
Action Team Update
Upcoming Events

Talking About Death

by Dr. Dwight Moore, Psychologist and AZELO Volunteer

Sometimes it feels awkward knowing what to say about a recent death. This article suggests some principles of how to approach the conversation gently, what not to do or say, and then offers a dialogue to illustrate.

Principles of a gentle conversation:

·        Be patient, there will be some silences, allow those to happen

·        Match your tone and tempo to the speaker. Grief slows down one’s talking and thinking pace, people are quieter, one’s tone is softer. Don’t respond with a chipper, hopeful, upbeat response about how Larry is in a better place.

·        Focus on the speaker. Allow the story to unfold. Resist telling the story of your spouse’s death. That just deflects the attention onto you.

·        Gear your language to match that of the speaker. If Helen is describing her husband’s last hours and says, “He seemed so peaceful and comfortable,” don’t respond with “That must have been horrible for you and your daughter.”

·        Ask open-ended questions: “I am sorry to hear about Lucy’s death…tell me about it.” “Is there anything I can do for you or your family?” “How is John doing?” “Catch me up on Fred’s situation.”

· Closed-ended questions or comments are usually not appropriate: “When did he die?” “I bet you felt terrible.” “Were you satisfied with his care at the end?” “I know how you feel.”

·        Paraphrase what you hear. Paraphrasing pays attention to both the content and the feeling: “It is a really sad time for you and you aren’t sure you are prepared to deal with the estate details.” “Right now everything seems numb and going too fast.”

Here is a sample dialogue that attempts to demonstrate a gentle conversation:

You: “I heard about George’s death. How are you doing?”

Your Friend: “Wow, I have never felt so lost and confused. We really didn’t expect the cancer to grow so fast and we hadn’t made any advance plans.”

You: “A really sad and confusing time for you.”

Your Friend: “Exactly. I’m not sure where to turn for help.”

You: “What kind of help do you feel you most need?”

Your Friend: “My daughter has been great about taking care of food, the funeral arrangements, and the family. I have no idea of where to start with the death certificate, the will, and banking arrangements.”

You: “So your daughter is taking care of family matters. For you, it is the technical stuff that is baffling.”

Your Friend: “Right.”

You: “Who do you think you might rely on for those issues?"

We can best help those who are grieving when we listen deeply and allow the conversation to progress without our own agenda getting in the way. Using open-ended questions and paraphrasing what we hear enables us as listener to better understand and be supportive. Next time you are with a friend or relative who is in the midst of a loss, give this technique a try. And remember, communication techniques improve with practice.


News Around the US: Massachusetts 

After narrowing losing a ballot initiative in 2012 for medical aid-in-dying (MAID) almost ten years ago, Massachusetts has been trying to get a MAID law passed legislatively ever since.  

Now, the most recent poll (by Boston Globe and Suffolk University) taken in 2019 shows a whopping 70% of the voters favor medical aid-in-dying.  That shows the power of educating the public through grassroots efforts and story-telling.

After over six hours of hearings on October 1st, the Joint Committee on Public Health in the Massachusetts legislature has now proceeded with their work sessions.  The companion bills – H2381 and S1384 – have a combination of 97 co-sponsors/ The hearings were conducted virtually and have been available online. Click here i
f you want to take a deep dive into the hearing process and see how the proponents and opposition frame their comments:  Hearing Details - Joint Committee on Public Health (

Will the legislators listen to their constituents?  If it passes, Massachusetts will join ten other states, plus Washington, DC, where medical aid-in-dying is another end of life option for terminally ill, competent adults.  Stay tuned for updates!

Help us Build our Newsletter Reach!

Here's what you can do: Call two of your friends or relatives who live in Arizona AND who you know are in favor of MAID. Ask them if you can subscribe them to our monthly newsletter. If they agree, click this link and fill in their name and email address.

Our Advisory Council (made up of seasoned MAID experts from around the country) recommended that we set a goal of having 10,000 subscribers to our newsletter. Right now we're just under 1,400 so we have a way to go. However, if each of us subscribes just two additional people, we'll be further along on our way to reaching this goal.

Let's take action! Let's show our Advisory Council how powerful we are!

Kem's Open Office

The purpose of my Open Office is to provide an informal, drop-in venue for MAID advocates to come together, get updates, and meet other folks including other Action Team members. And it's over Zoom, so you won't have to wear a mask!

Meet with us over a cup of coffee, ask questions, share ideas...

Here is your invitation to attend my next open office on Friday, November 19th. Drop in via Zoom any time between 10:00 and 12:00, and stay for as long as you like.

Or, copy and paste this link into your browser when the Open Office is in session:

I look forward to chatting with you on Friday, November 19th!

Legislative District Action Team Update
by Marie MacWhyte, AZELO Digital Marketing Lead

Some of our Action Team members are posting MAID facts to their surrounding neighborhoods on the social medial platform NextDoor, and I have been doing the same in Facebook groups all across Arizona. In these Facebook threads, I have been seeing some common themes among our opposition, one of which is the concept of MAID going against the "Will of God." I am reading many comments about MAID as being a form of "suicide" and therefore a "sin."

Let me propose an analogy to consider suicide vs MAID when it comes to "God's Will" and man's interference there:

  • Suicide is when I intentionally jump off a tall building, which results in my death. That is taking control away from God and doing my own thing.

  • MAID is when the building is burning beneath me, and I jump to my death before the fire reaches my floor (think Twin Towers). Between now and when the fire reaches my floor (to certain death, but first filled with all sorts of unpleasant uncertainties, especially suffering) -- I get to CHOOSE to jump out of the window instead of burning to death. I know that by jumping I will die instantaneously as I hit the pavement and without the suffering, I would encounter in the burning building, therefore more acceptable for me and my family.

  • This is not me taking the control away from God but instead exercising my free choice to make the inevitable less painful for all involved. Consider this analogy when the opposition says they'll never support MAID because it's "suicide" and "against God's will."

As we post our MAID facts our number of Action Team members is continuing to grow.  As of the date of this newsletter, we have 205 members with more Arizonans signing up each week. In the last issue of the newsletter, I posted a map of where our Action Team members are located with green pins and this issue shows our Facebook groups in yellow. This month the majority of the signups are mostly due to Facebook. We need more NextDoor coverage!

Sign up to join your Action Team here and if you are adept at social media, tell your Action Team leader you are interested in being a NextDoor Poster as well!


Upcoming Events

Presented by Dr. Tom Fitch, this zoom presentation describes the six choices people have about how they will exit this life and makes a case for considering Medical Aid in Dying as one of the choices.

Click here to register. Your zoom link will be emailed to you:
Free Webinar on Friday, November 5th at 1:00

The presentation will be repeated:
Free Webinar on Sunday, November 14th at 2:00
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