Watching – and documenting – as the end of a life unfolds

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Lane DeGregory

Lane DeGregory

Maintaining an emotional distance when reporting on life and death issues can be challenging; even more so when you’ve been following a subject for months, waiting for him to die.

Tampa Bay Times reporter Lane DeGregory wanted to investigate the frustrations many terminally ill patients experience surrounding aid-in-dying laws. She connected with a counselor from Compassion & Choices who introduced her to the key players in her story, “Prince Vinegar’s Last Stand.”

From simple pleasures like watching television with Ted and his wife Carolyn, to witnessing cruel outbursts , DeGregory and the photographer she worked with shared the day-to-day lives and frustrations of a man who knows he’s dying and is losing control over his body because of ALS. Someone who had vowed to end his own life when the time came.

In this new How I Did It piece, DeGregory explains the ups and downs of covering one couple so intensely and intimately for so long, her reporting process, and the effort to maintain professional distance while becoming an integral observer of their private life.

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