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Ray’s Story

"Thanks to hospice and this end-of-life option our culture is now on the immediate threshold of an entirely new last-phase of life -- and I am one of the very grateful explorers." Introduction by Christal Smith, Compassion & Choice Storytelling Project Manager

Ray Perman already had his aid-in-dying medication in hand when he invited Compassion & Choices into his home in December 2016 to share the easy-to-understand process he followed to obtain the prescription and the great peace of mind it gave him just knowing it was there. He later took the medication surrounded by loved ones and died peacefully on February 4, 2017.

When he reached out to our storytelling program, Ray told me he hoped that his lifelong passion for traveling and exploring would culminate in sharing the details of his final journey to inspire other terminally ill Californians who wanted to access this end-of-life care option. The son of a TWA pilot, Ray said that the explorer’s creed was guiding his approach to end of life:

Ray Perman after undergoing chemo.

Ray Perman after undergoing chemo.

Thanks to hospice and this end-of-life option our culture is now on the immediate threshold of an entirely new last-phase of life — and I am one of the very grateful explorers. Fantastic!!! The message is that it is no longer the worst, and indeed may, or certainly should be, the best phase of life. Every glint of sunshine, a flower, every smile, every modest act of human kindness, all bursts through delivering remarkable joy. Every interaction with loved ones and friends carries 10 times the amount of emotional impact as before. Absolutely no one should miss this experience. No one should have — need have — their perceptions occluded out of fear. No one wants to die, but a peaceful and happy death is indeed an ecstatic death — not a fantasy. Dial-in, do art, work with kids, connect, do, love, everything! Is this bravura, denial, something else? My excellent hospice nurse doesn’t think so. Thus [The End of Life Option Act] supports my goals of retaining high function and then rapidly transitioning to the end.  

I intend to report to C&C what I am experiencing on this path. Wish I could report to you from the “other side,” but darned, I’m not that good.

As much as he wanted this story to help others, the day after we shot this interview, he wrote me this message:

Your questions/process has brought about some amazing conversations and clarity with my family. I am the greatest beneficiary of everything you are doing with this story. Thank you so much. Onward through the cosmos … Ray.

Here is Ray’s story in his own words:

Read more:

Ray’s friend writes to The Jewish News of Northern California about his gratitude for the California law.

The Chicago Tribune writes about Ray, including Ray’s video.