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Death with Dignity: What it's like for loved ones and their families




This undated photo provided by the Maynard family shows Brittany Maynard, who ended her life on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, after a bout with terminal brain cancer.
This undated photo provided by the Maynard family shows Brittany Maynard, who ended her life on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, after a bout with terminal brain cancer.
Maynard Family/AP

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Several California lawmakers have put forward an aid-in-dying bill to help terminally ill patients end their lives when they so choose. 

The legislators made the announcement Wednesday, standing alongside the husband and mother of Brittany Maynard. Maynard left California to move to Oregon so that she could make use of the right to die laws there, following a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. She passed away at age 29. 

The decision to end one's life is not just about the patient, but also his or her family and medical team.

Pam Wald's husband, Ben, utilized the death with dignity law in Oregon in 2012, and Dr. David Grube was Ben Wald's prescribing physician. They both joined Take Two to talk about making this tremendously difficult choice.

Ben Wald's colon cancer struck twice -- with the second bout metastasizing to his lungs in 2011. About four week before he died, Ben spoke to Pam about his desire to utilize Oregon's Death with Dignity law.

"I listened, but I didn't really want to listen," Pam said. "I hoped the next morning he'd get up, he'd start eating, and something would happen. Well, nothing happened the next day. And the next night, he brought it up. And that's when I knew I had to listen ... I knew what I had to do. So I did what I did because I love him. I listened."

Gruber explained that while he did take an oath to heal people, participating in Ben's death was a decision that was not easy.

"It is a thing that you have to think about for a long time, and think very seriously about. A physician is a healer, but a doctor is a teacher. And in cases such as Ben's, it's hard for us to realize as healers and teachers that we cannot heal sometimes. A dying person such as Ben who has been through all the medical treatments available, the point of healing has passed. So then we need to move to sort of a different role, and not be concerned about the cure, but be more concerned about care."

Hear the rest of the interview by clicking the button near "Listen Now" above.