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Views from the end: Lynda Bluestein, medical aid in dying, and the importance of humor every day

We first met Lynda Shannon Bluestein when she was in palliative care back in May of 2022.

She was fighting for medical aid in dying (MAID) to be legalized in Connecticut. Frustrated, she sued Vermont to allow non-residents of the state to use its MAID laws.

In the meantime, she worked to install "wind phones'' in Connecticut, eventually starting a nonprofit called Lynda's Phones. An idea originating in Japan, old rotary phones are installed in public spaces which people can use to imagine that they are speaking to loved ones who have died.

Because of her lawsuit, Vermont became the first state in the country to change its law to allow terminally ill people from out of state to use its medical aid in dying law.

Lynda died in Concord, Vermont, on January 4, 2024.

For a transcript of this episode, click here.

Correction: A previous version of this episode incorrectly reported the town where Bluestein died. It was Concord, Vermont. Not Brattleboro. The episode has been updated.

GUESTS: 

  • Lynda Shannon Bluestein: Successfully sued the state of Vermont to allow out-of-state residents to use its medical aid in dying law. She is the creator of LyndasPhones.org, which installs wind phones across the state of Connecticut, allowing people to feel as though they are connecting with their loved ones who have died
  • Jacob Shannon: Lynda’s son and trustee of LyndasPhones.org,  funding the design, construction, and installation of wind phones 
  • Dr. Paul Bluestein: Lynda’s husband and an advocate for medical aid in dying in Connecticut 

Jessica Severin de Martinez, Khaleel Rahman, Meg Fitzgerald, and Catie Talarski contributed to this show, with very special thanks to Meg Dalton for contributing her audio postcard about the wind phones from October 2023.

Audacious with Chion Wolf is available as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Tune In, Listen Notes, or wherever you get your podcasts. Subscribe and never miss an episode.

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Jessica Severin de Martinez is a producer for Audacious with Chion Wolf.
Khaleel Rahman is a producer for 'Audacious with Chion Wolf.'
Meg Fitzgerald is the senior project manager for Radio and Storytelling Originals. She works with Connecticut Public's senior director and talk show producers to ensure our audio stories are represented digitally. She helps strategize digital audience growth with other departments for our radio programs and podcasts. Meg also helps to manage and co-produce special projects like StoryCorps CT, NautiWeek, Where Art Thou?, and other programs produced by our storytelling unit.
Meg Dalton is the deputy director of storytelling for Connecticut Public. She previously worked for The Takeaway from WNYC, in collaboration with GBH and PRX, and Mobituaries with Mo Rocca. She's also reported and edited for the Columbia Journalism Review, PBS NewsHour, Slate, MediaShift, Hearst Connecticut newspapers, and more. Her audio work has appeared on ‎WNYC, WSHU, Marketplace, WBAI, and NPR. She earned her master's degree from Columbia Journalism School in 2017, where she specialized in audio storytelling and narrative writing, and has taught audio storytelling at Columbia Journalism School, UnionDocs, and public libraries.
Catie Talarski is Senior Director of Storytelling and Radio Programming at Connecticut Public.
Chion Wolf is the host of Audacious with Chion Wolf on Connecticut Public.