How to Die in Oregon (2011)

Plot: In 1994, Oregon become the first state in the U.S. to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Since then, more then 500 Oregonians have ended their life under the law. This is an intimate exploration of Oregon’s historic and controversial Death with Dignity Act. This was the winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Documentaries at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

My Review and Thoughts:

This has always been a touchy subject. From Assisted Suicide to the right to choose your way of dying. First I speak my viewpoint on the subject. I do not believe in suffering when you know your going to die. You as a human being should have the right to take the pain away and that means ending your life.

I feel no one has the right to tell you that you can not. I am not talking about depression suicide or those having a bad day should have the right to walk into a hospital and get assisted suicide. I am talking about those with a terminal illness that will take there life. We the people in humane ways put down or animals when they are suffering at the end and so we are more humane to animals then to our own human kind.

I worked in nursing homes for ten years as an Activity Director and so I did one on ones with residents and tended to there needs in daily life. What I witnessed was massive suffering and pain that should not have been. I have witnessed elderly patients begging for death as they slowly suffered over and over again for days, weeks, months and sometimes years all along knowing they will never get better, only worse and no matter there pain will remain.

One patient will always remain with me. A family decided to keep there mother alive until her feet basically mummified. Dead flesh just hanging. She was on tube after tube after tube all along wanting to die and yet no one would let her.

This documentary is a touching sad and truly thought provoking piece of truth. A film that everyone should see. Something I can’t stand is when people think everyone follows there beliefs and that people are suppose to follow there beliefs. They try and force people to go along with what they say is right. Religion should have no baring on anyone’s choices, especially if they don’t believe in it. It should not be forced down another throat and defiantly not in action form denying a persons right to make there own decisions.

This chronicles the right to die. It showcases the first state to accept and allow the person to choose death instead of pain and suffering. Oregon was the pioneer state. They have made the arc of history and truth and understanding of the human being, being humane to itself.

This also showcases the struggle to pass the rite to die in the state of Washington which you witness the struggle and the fight of one woman, a wife of a man who died in horrible pain and basically rotted away. His last wish was for his wife to fight for people to have the right to have medical help to end their life. This details her commitment to her husband and to the truth and to the right to die with dignity and comfort and human compassion.

This is a beautiful and haunting surreal film that brings images of pain and images of real humans seeking death. Peter D. Richardson did an amazing job in bringing this film together and directing a wonderful thought provoking piece of truth that expresses the pain and suffering of those who should have the right to end it.

The movie starts out with an elderly man named Roger. He's surrounded by his family and the end-of-life counseling. Rogers instructed on the basis of what he's about to do and is asked the question is this really what he wants to do and that he can back out at any time. He says yes and he hurries the cocktail of medicine that will end his life. He jokes "who made the medicine" "tell the next person it taste woody". This is shocking moment as you witness his last breath, he sings a few lines of Old Black Joe and then he dies before you on film.

It's heart wrenching and yet peaceful. He needed it. He had the right to die with dignity. He was terminally ill slowly suffering. In today's educated world he should have the right to end it.

You are then introduced to Cody Curtis who is my favorite part of the documentary. You follow her through her ordeal of liver cancer, terminal liver cancer. She lives in Portland Oregon. Curtis on screen was truly touching. Her death even though you didn't witness it you heard the process. She chose to die behind curtains surrounded by her doctor, family and her death counselor. She is the basic central focus of the story. You watch her day to day life that she suffers continuously ups and downs until her final moments.

"I will always remember Cody Curtis"

You see there is a catch with the choice of death if you get too bad and you can't administer the drug yourself, you cannot do the assisted suicide. No one can give you the drink you have to drink it. One thing I find sad yet truthful is you witness the rapid growth of the cancer in Cody's last few months of life as she slowly deteriorates before your eyes, squeals of pain. Her stomach being bloated than having to be drained of the cancer seeping into her body. She's in her early 50s. Some of the most heart-wrenching moments is watching this lively wonderful beautiful lady simply have difficulty opening the refrigerator door. You start to hear her breathing heavy at everything she does. There you see her bake cookies with her son in pain. But all the while the sense of humor is there. She makes you laugh. She smiles. She loves her family and friends for one thing about this documentary if I go away with anything I will remember Cody Curtis's struggle. I will remember her amazing style of suffering and doing it with dignity and choosing the right to end her life with dignity and not pain.

Her amazing beauty not only in appearance but her inner soul. Her heart of compassion she gave it her all to survive.

One of the strongest parts of the documentary is the Washington State campaign to pass initiative 1000 as I have stated above Nancy Niedzielski was doing it on the last wish of her husband who died a horrible painful death.

Peter D Richardson created a wonderful touching and truly passionate piece of real life cinema that will stand the test of time as being something truthful and thought provoking. His passion for capturing reality on screen is an art form and a true landscape of the human existence.

Whatever part stands out for you as you watch this documentary you cannot help but remember the hundred seven minutes of truth.

Hundred and seven minutes that I will always remember. It changed my life. It helped me build my belief system stronger and stronger for the right in the dignity of people that are suffering with terminally ill diseases to be able to go into a hospital and to request assistance through a physician, so that they can die with dignity.