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  • Writer's picture Gabrielle Elise Jimenez

"I've Got You"

As I write this, I have been present for seven people in ten days who have exercised their legal right to take the Medical Aid in Dying medications, which in California we refer to as End-of-Life Option Act (“EOLOA") and is also known as Death with Dignity.

Dignity, “the state or quality of being worthy of honor or respect.” This is how I feel all human beings should be treated at the end of their life. For me this means being seen, heard, honored, and respected.

I have been present for over one hundred people who have chosen to do this, but for this blog let’s just focus on the seven over the last ten days. Each person was on hospice, each had a terminal illness, and each was suffering from physical, emotional, spiritual, and/or mental pain. This pain had become so horrible for them, that they wanted to find a way to end it. I think it is important to make very clear that each was already terminal and dying, they tried to deal with the pain, they tried to hope for improvement and relief, and they tried not to let it get them down, but all of them were unsuccessful.


The following is a section from my book “Dignity Day”

Put yourself in their shoes”

Imagine being the person who is told they are going to die far sooner than they had hoped, because of a terminal diagnosis that will more than likely violate their body with pain (physical, emotional, and spiritual), agitation, anxiety, restlessness, fatigue, weakness, confusion, and/or fear.

That is heavy news and will take its toll.

You try to be hopeful and optimistic.

You try to reassure the people who love you that you are “okay,” or “fine.”

They see you; they know how hard this is for you, but they are also holding out hope, not willing to discuss the negative aspects of your experience, not willing to accept that perhaps you do not want to do this anymore… not willing to give up for one second that maybe, just maybe, you will get through this.

Time is no longer yours to manage, your remaining time is not in your hands, you have no control, you are at the mercy of the illness, the diagnosis, the symptoms, the physical changes, the emotional exhaustion, and the spiritual tug-of-war that you will experience every single day.

Everyone around you wants more time. YOU WANT MORE TIME.

But not like this.

Not riddled with pain or discomfort.

Not having to wait day after day for the inevitable end to come.

You’ve already been told you have a terminal diagnosis.

You have already been made acutely aware that you are dying.

And despite the numerous medication changes, position changes, food changes, doctor changes, etc… the only common denominator is that you are going to die.

Now… imagine this is you, and you have been given a choice… a choice to end the suffering on your terms, to die with dignity, and choose to let go with peace, ease, and grace.

That is what Medical Aid in Dying means to me.


Each person I was with expressed how difficult the decision was to make, which is what I want to share in this blog. I want people to understand that this decision is not made frivolously, or without deep thought and consideration. They all would have rather had more time, but the thought of living any longer in such a state of suffering was more than they could handle. Each shared with me what it was like to be in their shoes…

“I feel like I am letting my family down,” was said several times, despite the support of the family members. They felt a certain sense of guilt, which was woven tightly around the peace they knew they would eventually feel.

“Will God punish me for this,” was said by someone who had not kept up with her Catholic upbringing, but days before taking the medications, her fear escalated. I arranged for her to meet with the hospice chaplain who offered her a safe place to express her fears, to listen and to let her know she was heard. It was that conversation that gave her the peace to move forward.

One person tried to hold on despite her inability to eat or drink or get out of bed without help, because she wanted more time with the people she loves. She wanted more time… but not like this.

My point with this blog is to reassure those who question this choice that it is not an easy decision to make, and it truly is the last resort, which is the only thing that promises to remove their suffering. When given a terminal diagnosis, their choices are taken from them, this option gives them their voice and their autonomy back, and while they don’t get to live (which would be their first choice) they do get to choose to die on their terms, giving them their voice back.

I wrote my book “Dignity Day,” for the brave warrior who makes this choice, for the people who support them, and for those who struggle with the option, but don’t want to walk away from someone they love… this is their struggle too, and I get that.

My hope for this blog (and my book), is that it invites healthy conversation, welcomes curiosity, answers some of the big questions, and supports each person by honoring their different thoughts and opinions about it.

When I am at the bedside, moments before they take the medications, I look into their eyes and I say, “I’ve got you.” This is my way of letting them know I will always advocate for them, I will not leave their side, I respect their choice, and they are not doing this alone.



Note: You can get “Dignity Day,” here:

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