Volunteer Spotlight: Karen’s story

Personal Stories | May 20, 2022 | Dying With Dignity Canada

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A photo of Karen Hamilton

Dying With Dignity Canada’s longevity and success is due in large part to the many volunteers who work on the local and at the regional level. We have Chapters across the country powered by people passionate about end-of-life choice. 

Throughout the year, we will be highlighting the stories and contributions of DWDC’s volunteers, and what motivates them to give of their time to our organization. This is Karen’s story.

Tell us about yourself 

My name is Karen Hamilton; my husband Doug and I have two amazing sons, Jamie and Graeme, who are accomplished with their chosen careers and direction in life.  

Doug and I are about to enjoy retirement. I enjoy travelling, reading, cooking, forest walks with our dog Tony, golfing, bird watching, nature and spending time with family! Family means EVERYTHING to me. 

Please share with us your lived experience with assisted dying 

My amazing father was granted an assisted death in August 2020. He was 86 years old when he passed away. My father was a very proud man and full of knowledge. He always told us that he never wanted to get to the point where he could not take care of himself, and this time was coming. Physically and mentally my father was deteriorating quite rapidly hence his decision to access medical assistance in dying (MAID), which was granted on August 1, 2020. What a beautiful death it truly was, on his terms with the full support of his family.  

How did you become involved with Dying With Dignity Canada (DWDC) as a volunteer? 

DWDC was an organization I was aware of in late 2018. My father was unable to access MAID the first time he applied, and I wanted to gather as much information I could about all his end-of-life choices, for when the timing was right.  

I started volunteering as a co-chairperson for the Halton Chapter shortly after his death in August 2020. I attended monthly Chapter Chair meetings and connected with other Chapter members from all around Canada. Life took me in a different direction in late 2021, I resigned from the Halton Chapter but continued to volunteer making “thank you calls” to all new donors and supporters of DWDC. I love doing this as it connects me with people whose lives were affected by a loved one accessing MAID, friends who had MAID or just having a conversation regarding our right to choose what our end of life would look like. It is very helpful that I have had real life experience with MAID with my father.  

What changes would you like to see to Canada’s assisted dying law? 

I am an enthusiastic advocate for MAID and feel that everyone has a right to choose how they would like to see their end of life unfold.  

Advance requests are something that I would like to see available to all Canadians going forward. As Parliament is reviewing improvements that can broaden access to MAID, I believe that giving all people the right to request MAID for their future end-of-life choice is high on the list of priorities.  

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell you a little about myself and my passion for DWDC. I am honoured to be a part of such a great organization.  

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