March 14, 2016

Diane Rehm, distinguished NPR Radio Show host, author, and National Humanities Medal awardee, has just published a new book, a memoir called “On My Own.” Her book recounts the death of her husband, John, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease for more than a decade, and how she is dealing with her grief.  Rehm has seized this rare opportunity to use her very public voice to share her personal experience, which she believes will be helpful to others, and to address the issue of a human’s right to die as they choose.

In her book, and in interviews and appearances, Rehm speaks openly about the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death (after spending his final two years in an assisted living facility, he refused food, water and medication, and died 10 days later). And, Rehm has become a vocal advocate for right-to-die legislation. In an interview with the Washington Post, Rehm says:

I feel that the way John had to die was just totally inexcusable. It was not right.

Not everyone is supportive of Rehm’s choice to speak openly and honestly about this. As a journalist she is expected to moderate issues, not defend them. So, Rehm has decided to retire from hosting her on-air show at the end of 2016.  She is choosing to use her talent and gift – her public, respected voice – for something she is more passionate about. In a recent interview with the Washington Post:

It’s time for me…on the issue of right-to-die, to be able to speak out and speak freely.

Rehm leads us in candor in many ways: she is truthful with herself about what really matters, and she speaks honestly, directly and respectfully about it.

Candor is not new for Rehm… her previous books include “Toward Commitment: A Dialogue About Marriage,” an open and honest look at the joys and struggles of her marriage to John, and “Finding My Voice,” which recounts the details of her life, including her struggle with a rare neurological disorder, spasmodic dysphonia (SD), which threatened to end her broadcast career. Rehm, it seems, is the proverbial open book, with nothing to hide and an admirable confidence in speaking freely about the most important things.