End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Beyond the Boardby Sonja

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Compassion & Choices board member Dr. Charlie Hamlin enjoyed celebrity status this summer with an acclaimed multistate speaking tour. His presentation, “Mortality, Morality & Honor: The End-of-Life Paradigm,” covered common attitudes, hopes and fears, as well as the roles that medicine, law, government and church play in people’s approach to dying. He aimed to provide a clearer picture of “the last chapter” and ways each of us can control how that plays out.

Dr. Hamlin started his tour in Maine, where he has strong family roots as a descendent of Hannibal Hamlin, Abraham Lincoln’s first vice president. He continued in his home state of Colorado and most recently New Mexico, speaking to packed rooms and at least one state legislator in attendance. The talk, according to Dr. Hamlin, was “intended as a philosophical reminder of the circle of life and meant as a reminder to all to stay young and die young as late as possible … and plan on it.”

“His presentation was fabulous,” said Erin Marshall, Compassion & Choices New Mexico campaign manager. “He’s incredibly warm, funny and engaging on a topic that is less than comfortable to present. Even with his medical background, he spoke from a very human perspective and really tried to get audience members to think for themselves. Everybody just loved him.”

A retired hand surgeon, Dr. Hamlin understands our complex medical system. He devotes much time and energy to urge acceptance of mortality in our society. The experience gained witnessing his father’s gentle death and his mother’s rough passing inspired him to promote the importance of preparation to ensure peace at the end of life.

One of our most dedicated activists, Dr. Hamlin was a founding member of Hand Surgery Associates, practicing there for more than 30 years before retiring in 2008. He received degrees from Yale College, Dartmouth Medical School and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He has written five instructional courses for the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and earned the prestigious Humanitarian Award from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in 2001. He is also a member of the American Orthopaedic Association and the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, earning their Volunteer Service award in 2007.

Check our events page for Dr. Hamlin’s upcoming appearances or other happenings in your area.