What end-of-life options do the terminally ill have? Should they be offered “aid in dying?”

When a patient in the Northeast contacts Compassion & Choices, he is referred to Schwarz, whose first order of business is to find out who the patient is and what his current medical situation entails. Then, Schwarz attempts to get a sense of what the patient is looking for. She tries to provide information to all callers, but to qualify for help, patients should be able to make their own decisions and be suffering, whether in a terminal stage of illness or not.

‘There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what we do,’ Schwarz said. ‘What we do is provide information about end-of-life choices to help patients make informed decisions that reflect their values and wishes. We don’t provide the means. We don’t administer. We don’t encourage or coerce. We have no agenda other than to provide complete and accurate information about end-of-life options.’

And in doing this, Schwarz’s role is to help a patient navigate the end of his life so he can maintain some control over it, instead of leaving it to doctors who are trained not only to lessen suffering but also to keep him alive and death at bay.

“Going Gently Into That Good Night.” — Daniel Krieger, Narratively