“Crown jewel” wildlife refuge is about to be decimated as Trump starts border wall



A 2,000 acre wildlife area known as the “crown jewel” of the national refuge system is about to be gutted as Trump begins construction on his border wall. US Customs and Border patrol has quietly been preparing to start the 18-foot tall border wall in the Santa Ana National Refuge in southern Texas, according to an anonymous official. The refuge is home to 400 bird species and the endangered ocelot, but if the wall is constructed as planned, it will… View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green BuildingEco funeral – Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

10 groundbreaking designs by Shigeru Ban that changed our ideas about architecture

Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand

Shigeru Ban designed, pro-bono, this stunning temporary Cardboard Cathedral for Christchurch following a devastating earthquake in 2011. Built with his signature paper-tubes, the transitional church can hold View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green BuildingEco funeral – Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson says Trump is wrong about climate change

In a startling statement during his Wednesday confirmation hearing to become Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson publically disagreed with Donald Trump’s positions on climate change. While the President-Elect has stated he wants to withdraw from the Paris agreement, and has characterized climate change as an anti-American “hoax,” Tillerson told Congress, “I think it’s important that the United States maintain its seat at the table on the conversations around how to address the threats of climate… View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green BuildingEco funeral – Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

Here’s what you need to know about tonight’s black moon

You’ve heard of a blood moon or a harvest moon, maybe even a supermoon. But what about a black moon? Tonight in the Western Hemisphere part of the world will experience a black moon…but they won’t be able to see much.

Related: View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green BuildingEco funeral – Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

This pop-up rainwater pavilion in Edinburgh is designed to raise awareness about water

Related: Four fascinating Summer Houses accompany this year’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

+ DoepelStrijkers

Images courtesy of Peter van der Wal/DoepelStrijkers View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green BuildingEco funeral – Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

INFOGRAPHIC: What you need to know about Sea Level Rise

We know that sea levels are rising and we know that many coastal cities struggle regularly with resulting flooding, but how much do we know about where we are headed? Which cities are taking action to protect themselves and which are not taking enough action? Who will be hit the hardest and how much will the damage from sea level rise cost us? To help us understand its impacts, Eastern Kentucky University’s Safety, Security and Emergency Management Program put together this infographic, which discusses… View full post on Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green BuildingEco funeral – Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

Your Questions about Supreme Court of Canada’s Ruling Answered

This guest post has been contributed by Dying with Dignity Canada.

Supporters of Death with Dignity laws in the U.S., including Death with Dignity National Center, point to the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling decriminalizing physician-assisted death as a catalyst for their work. The ruling decriminalized physician assisted death for a broader range of people than the laws being promoted in the U.S.: competent Canadians with a grievous and irremediable medical condition, including an illness, disease or disability, that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual. The court did not define “grievous and irremediable” but it is clear it is not limited to terminal illness. In addition, someone who has dementia but is still competent to provide informed consent would qualify, provided their suffering is, at the time of the request, intolerable to them. The remedy from the courts includes both the prescription and administration of medication, so that individuals will not be compelled to end their lives too early out of fear they will lose the capacity to do so later on.

The Court has given lawmakers a year to write new legislation, either Federal or Provincial lawmakers can pass legislation, both can, and neither has to do so, though it is unknown which level(s) of government decide to act. The provision of healthcare is a responsibility that is shared by both federal and provincial governments. Naturally, if the federal government passes legislation on assisted dying that are within its legal jurisdiction, those laws would apply across the country. However, each province has the power to craft its own framework for assisted dying.

Opponents of the Supreme Court ruling immediately asked for the Federal Governemnt to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision by using the notwithstanding clause in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, essentially an override rule, to be applied in order to overturn the decision of the court, butT that drastic course of action option does not seem likely. Should neither the federal nor provincial governments pass laws applying the Court’s ruling, physician-assisted death would then be regulated by existing healthcare legislation and professional standards surrounding the practice of medicine, the same way that other end-of-life treatments are regulated.

In any case, in a year’s time, the current legal bans on prescribing and administering medication will be invalid in circumstances set out in the decision. Physicians will be able to assist either by providing the knowledge or the means for a person to end their own life, e.g. by prescribing life-ending medication or by administering life-ending medication. The SCC decision does not compel physicians to comply with requests for assisted dying. “Nothing in this declaration would compel physicians to provide assistance in dying,” the ruling reads. However, whether a doctor will have a duty to refer such a request to another doctor or healthcare institution if they are unwilling to provide the service will likely be addressed through legislation or regulatory standards governing the conduct of physicians. Similarly, the duty to provide physician-assisted death by hospitals, hospices, and other institutions will likely be addressed in federal or provincial legislation. If it is not addressed in legislation physician assisted death will be a right, but it might not be an accessible option for all Canadians.

To learn more about this issue, please join Dying with Dignity Canada for a Q&A webinar with our CEO, Wanda Morris, next week.

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Intimate Conversations about Love and Loss

Karen Kaplan is an ordained rabbi and served as a hospice chaplain for seven years. Learn more about Encountering the Edge and read book excerpts on the publisher’s site or Amazon. You can also see Karen’s own blog, Offbeat Compassion.

Death with Dignity National Center’s Melissa Barber asked me as I prepared this post, “Why did you write this book?” This is something every author should keep in mind throughout the writing process. It implies, among many other things, that a solidly cogent answer must precede the genesis of any worthwhile book.

While writing my hospice chaplain memoir, I kept in mind how the author of Ecclesiastes admonished his son: “Of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.” And I was acutely conscious of needing abundant justification for writing Encountering the Edge: What People Told Me Before They Died.

Melissa’s question is also an excellent tool for self-reflection. It’s one thing to explain what a reader might get out of it, and quite another for authors to delve into the spiritual reasons underlying their endeavors. (The psychological reason is yet another dimension, and this is dealt with in the book.) I’ll now endeavor to take on both challenges.

Particularly for Death with Dignity followers, I think Amy Glenn Wright, columnist and blogger for Philly.com, summed up the why-read-it question in her review most succinctly: It’s a “needed reminder to reflect upon mortality in a culture built upon marketing the latest stimulant and distraction. What meaning can be found when facing the end of life? What legacy does each individual leave behind?… [This book inspires] reflection upon the significance of death’s inevitability and the beauty of existence.” In other words, I delved into the meaning and spiritual importance of those facing the loss of themselves and of their loved ones.

In Encountering the Edge I give a fly-on-the-wall account of what some of my patients said to me during my visits. These true stories show what they cared about, laughed at, wanted to talk about and wanted to avoid. This account also shows what hospice is like from the chaplain’s perspective, including the tremendous travel time involved and how chaplains handle the misuse of religion in patient care.

The fact that the memoir carries no religious message and doesn’t leave the reader with conventional answers, speaks to the deeper spiritual reason I felt compelled to put myself out there with this book. I feel my purpose as a chaplain is to provide an open and sacred space for people to articulate whatever is on their minds unimpeded by hidden agendas—including religious ones.

I think this is what defines authentic interaction, particularly when the subject is crucial such as pondering the purpose of one’s life. I have aspired to make the book work for the reader in the same way: These vignettes of patients and their families show their values, struggles, memories and pleasures at the moment I am listening to them. The act of concentrated listening helps them articulate these concerns and consequently gain more self-awareness of the import of what they have expressed. I hope this book will give readers their own space to freely reflect upon how facing loss shapes the unfolding of their own life paths and their own final chapters.

Editor’s note: Blog posts on Living with Dying about arts and humanities aren’t endorsements of these books or movies.

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A Growing Conversation About Death with Dignity

For years, many state lawmakers have been working quietly to put forward Death with Dignity legislation, and with the recent shift in the national conversation around end-of-life healthcare policy reform, some politicians are taking a more vocal stance. Within the last few years, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin made Death with Dignity part of his campaign platform; New Jersey Assemblyman John Burzichelli introduced and is championing his proposed Death with Dignity legislation; and Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach has begun being more vocal in his support for the Death with Dignity bill he proposed.

His bill emulates our model legislation, the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. In an editorial published this week, Senator Leach outlined why Pennsylvania needs to follow in the footsteps of Oregon, Washington, and Vermont. He pointed out how Americans want and seek out options in all facets of their lives:

The desire for choice seems to be in America’s DNA. As a people, we demand a cornucopia of choices in virtually every aspect of our lives. We demand everything from 31 flavors to 800 channels. We go to The Cheesecake Factory to choose between 300 menu items, in a mall with 400 stores…Yet we have, for the most part, passively accepted the denial of any choice in the one area of life where it perhaps means the most. In most places in this country, we can not choose how we want our lives to end.

He went on to explain specific provisions of the proposed Pennsylvania legislation:

The bill requires that any person wanting the medication fill out and sign a notarized form, indicating that they themselves were making the request. They would then need two separate doctors, a treating physician, and a non-treating independent physician to attest that the patient has a terminal disease and has less than 6 months to live. Only then would the medicine be disbursed.

Senator Leach addressed opponent’s false assertions which we’ve heard since Oregonians voted on the groundbreaking Death with Dignity Act in 1994; he pointed out the proposed law would only be an option for people who are clearly dying as a result of a terminal illness. He also reflected on the experience of people who’ve exercised their rights under other states’ Death with Dignity laws that “just having the medicine, and the options it brings, is enough comfort to enable them to keep going.”

Poignantly, he ends his op-ed by summing up the true aim of Death with Dignity laws: patient centered care.

Ideally, the end of life is a time filled with sadness, but also sweetness, reconciliations and meaningful goodbyes. It is an intensely personal time that should be choreographed and lived by the person and the family affected.

Senator Leach’s editorial is part of the growing public demand for laws to allow terminally ill people to decide what’s best for themselves in their final days, and it’s refreshing to see more and more politicians calling on their fellow lawmakers to stand up and respect the will of the people.

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Dying Wish: A Documentary About a Peaceful Death

Karen van Vuuren is a former broadcast news journalist with experience working in the field of end-of-life and directed the documentary Dying Wish. Below she explains more about working with Dr. Miller to film the documentary.

Karen’s currently completing a new documentary, Go In Peace! on caring for veterans with PTSD who are facing serious illness or death. She is also the editor of Natural Transitions Magazine, a quarterly magazine focusing on conscious, holistic approaches to end of life.

Retired surgeon, Dr. Michael Miller, knew he wanted to die in his own bed, at his home in Boulder, Colorado. His desire was to leave surrounded by family, and under the care of a supportive hospice team. Dr. Miller had done his homework on his end-of-life choices. He’d researched the dying process and discovered that patients who stopped eating and drinking often had an easier exit.

Yet, Dr. Miller found few studies specifically addressing Voluntary Refusal of Food and Fluids. What evidence he came across, proved largely anecdotal. He also discovered a lack of knowledge and information relating to dehydration and the dying process, not just among patients and their families, but also among professional healthcare providers. The documentary Dying Wish is the gift of a compassionate physician who laments his own past lack of skill at the bedside of the dying.  

Dr. Miller had decided when his own body began to signal his closeness to death, he’d allow nature to take its course by stopping drinking and eating. His existential pain around a prolonged dying process, and his belief that dehydration would alleviate some of his more troublesome symptoms, led to his decision to refuse food and fluids.

When filming began, Dr. Miller hadn’t yet embarked upon his fast. For some time, he’d been dealing with pain, nausea, and diarrhea, for which he was being treated by his hospice care team.

When Dr. Miller called a Colorado radio station with a request for a documentary about his death, he never imagined he’d meet a journalist with end-of-life expertise. In his conversation with me, Dr. Miller first focused on the possibility of a radio feature. When he learned of my previous experience as a television producer, he suggested a film. Within days, a camera crew was assembled and standing by for daily visits to Dr. Miller’s house.

Over the course of two weeks, Dying Wish followed Dr. Miller throughout his fast, to his death on the thirteenth day of not eating and drinking. We see the physical changes in him, the dizziness associated with hypotension, the muscle loss, cachexia, and the weakness. We hear about the methods of comfort care he employs to address the most common adverse symptom of dehydration in the dying: dry mouth. Those who have seen the film often express their surprise at Dr. Miller’s still frequent trips to the bathroom days into his fast, emphasizing the fact that abstaining from fluids doesn’t preclude urination. The body still needs to eliminate waste.

Dr. Miller wanted to highlight the common physical benefits of dehydration at the end of a terminal illness—the release of endorphins providing natural analgesia, reduced edema and pain from fluid-filled tumors, and fewer secretions, to name a few. His goal was to dispel myths of protracted pain and anguish due to thirst. At no point does Dr. Miller complain of either thirst or hunger. Indeed, it becomes clear cancer took away his hunger, months before he signed on to hospice. Reduced appetite, then, is seen as a natural part of the dying process, as the body begins to shut down.

Ultimately, Dying Wish provides a window on the dying process, demystifying it for the many whose only experience of death is as a chaotic, tragic event or as a medical emergency. Perhaps the most profoundly touching scenes are those in which he takes leave of his family, reflecting on his life and the nature of his leaving, turning the period of his dying into a meaningful rite of passage.

Dying Wish addresses far more than what it means to refuse food and fluids at the end of life. As an educational tool, it invites discussion about existential and psycho-spiritual questions such as the nature of a “good death” and what it means to be “ready to die?” I sought out bioethicists who could comment on these issues, and share their own experiences with patients who had made similar choices.

Dying Wish makes it clear patients have a right to stop eating and drinking at the end of their life. Dr. Miller’s own advanced directives emphasized quality of life. He was determined to avoid the indignity his 102 year-old mother faced at the end of her life when nursing home staff cajoled her into eating against her will.

Among the general public, Dying Wish has opened hearts and minds to a subject that, in our society, still does not bear thinking about. Audiences who’ve seen Dying Wish are often incredulous that patients can exercise such control over the circumstances surrounding their death.  

Clearly, as a medical man, it could be said that Dr. Miller had a need to control his death. But, equally, he had a desire to approach it with a degree of consciousness that assumed acceptance of the inevitable course of nature. Physicians who’ve seen the film, have commented Dr. Miller made them feel more comfortable about their own deaths. End-of-life professionals have used it with patients to broach sensitive issues that may be more easily aired through the less personal medium of a documentary film.

Dying Wish was screened at film festivals around the country and featured twice at the clinical conference of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

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