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A Conversation With Diane Rehm

Diane Rehm has a new documentary out on PBS, called "When My Time Comes."
Diane Rehm has a new documentary out on PBS, called "When My Time Comes."

What does it mean to die with dignity? That’s a question Diane Rehm has explored for years.

The first death with dignity law passed in Oregon in 1997. Nine other states and D.C. also now have passed similar legislation. Diane Rehm’s new film, “When My Time Comes,” looks at the arguments for and against medical aid in dying. Rehm spoke with The Washington Post about how her husband’s death spurred her into advocacy.

It wasn’t so much that he was in pain. He said he had lost his sense of dignity. He was a very proud man, and he felt that if he continued to live he was going to lose even more dignity. He still had his sharp mind, and he knew exactly what he was doing and saying. Our daughter said, “Dad, we can keep you comfortable,” and he said, “Dammit, I don’t want comfort.” I’ve since learned that pain is number 6 on the list of reasons why people want medical aid in dying. The loss of joy in life is number one. The morning after John had that conversation with his doctor, I remember walking in to see him and saying: “Sweetheart, you look wonderful! Your face is rosy and your eyes are sparkling!” He said: “I have begun the journey.”

We talk with Diane Rehm about her new film and where her advocacy work has taken her.

Copyright 2021 WAMU 88.5

Rupert Allman