Am interested to know what others might consider the definition of a good death.
I'd say that the key to a good death is to be mentally at peace - not worried, and knowing that everything will carry on OK for people after you've gone, whether that's emotionally, financially or in any other way. I may just say that because I'm a born worrier though!
I recently conducted a funeral service for a man who died of cancer in the local hospice in Northampton. He died with his family at his bedside chatting, laughing and joking with him - holding his hand and just being there for him - frankly under the circumstances that is a good death - he just slipped away with those he loved beside him.
As I said at his funeral - "We all have to face death but we dont all have a good death and he had a good death".
In my view, a good death is one where the transition from life to death is seamless, painless and free from stress.
SilverDove, that man's death sounds like the ideal we all would wish for. I don't think I have heard of one better.
It was said earlier that a good death is one where the person passes with their closed loved ones around them. Another post said that if one was free from worries that too constituted a good death.
I suggest people look at the death plan template in My Last Song (.com) as it enables the 'patient', their loved ones, their doctor and if appropriate a minister of religion to discuss all the issues in advance. It also includes advice on 'putting your affairs in order' so there are no worries.
Use of such a death plan will give you the ending you want, hopefully as comforting and as comfortable as possible.
My husband died with me and my Grandson beside him, with his favourite Welsh Male Voice choir music being played, and just as I threatened to join in, he quietly left us! Typical of him but the humour of the situation really has helped us.
In my opinion it's pain-free, surrounded by your loved ones, stress-free with humour & quick!
But more important to me is : How to achieve this? How can you plan your death? May I ask for comment.
Also, why is "talking about death" still a taboo in polite society? We now openly discuss: racism, sexual orientation, religion.....but mental health & dying [seem to me] are still not openly discussed - why?
Again, comment would be appreciated - from anyone!
I came into this world alone, and I plan to leave it the same way.
Permit me a little dignity, when the time comes.
...but how will your death be organised so you can rely on the fact you'll get dignity?
By not being pitied.
..but what if you're in a pitiful state?
Personally, having watched my wife die for two years from cancer, a good death is a quick death.
yes,having time to get your affairs in order is a good thing, but if you're well & alive one minute and dead the next, quite frankly you won't care. It may make it harder for the people left behind to untangle your earthly affairs but you yourself are beyond all worry.
So for me, when it happens, I'm hoping I will just go, no warning, no waiting, no slowly watching my body decay.
It's also what my wife would have wanted, but sadly it didn't work out that way. We had a wonderful palliative care nurse, I was able to cut back on work to be a full time carer at home for her and we had great support from the community nurses, so everything that could have been done for her was done. But the last six months of her life I don't wish on anyone.
A good death should be as comfortable and comforting as possible. This mean different choices for different people. The problem is that people's wishes on how they want to die either never get discussed or are lost.
That's why in My Last Song there's a death plan template to encourage death and dying to be discussed, and all the issues - emotional, practical, medical, spiritual - addressed. Once filled in, the death plan can be given to close loved ones and the GP so that the death is comfortable and comforting.
I am just in the process of writing an essay and for a good death to be achieved we need to consider the whole person and to do that we surly need to consider culture. working in nursing I find it difficult to suggest hospice care is probably Christian based so how do we cater and therefore provide good deaths for other cultures? xx
This is one of our topics of discussion at our next death cafe in Brighton! Should be interesting. http://www.meetup.com/Brighton-Hove-Death-Cafe/
My mother died in 1997 as aresult of Motor Neurone Disease. When we recieved the diagnosis from her consultant we didn't know how to react as we had no idea of what this disease was or what to expect. We were simply told that it was terminal and that there was no treatment for it.
Once I got home from the hospital I immediately Googled the disease and to say that I was horrified by what I was reading is a massive understatement. The thought of my mum suffering such an awful death left me and the rest of the family devastated.
However, when it came time for mum to die, she was surrounded by her family, my sister and her husband and me and my wife. We had ourselves and our mindsets all ready for what we were expecting to happen to our mum in her final breaths.
We set with her in her small private hospital room, we nursed her tiny frame, we held her hands, praying and wishing for death to come quickly and at the same time not wanting our mum to leave us.
When she finally passed away, she did so peacefully, knowing that we were all at her side. She didn't suffer any of the horros that we were expecting because of MND, she simply fell asleep, occasionally opening her eyes to look around the room at us and to give us a smile, as if to say "I'm ready, I'm happy, I'm at peace". She finally slipped away with no pain just a simple last quiet breath and she was gone. I have often said that aprt from the birth of my three children it was the most special thing that I have ever been priveledged to witness.
But even when she was gone my mum still had card up her sleeve. She had asked one of her freinds and neighbours to ask me to do her burial service for her. So on the day of her funeral her minister did a short service at home and when we got to the cemetry I had the pleasure of being able to carry out her final wish as he was lowered into the grave I spoke about her, who she was to us a mother, mother in law, nanny, friend neighbour. I would encourage anyone who is making plans for themselves pr other family members to think about taking an active part in the funeral service of a loved or askinf a loved one to take part in yours. It's not easy, but it is worth it and it can be really helpful to you and other close relatives because of the deeply personal relatinship that you enjoyed.
Dying is inevatable, we makes plans for every single aspect of lives, yet leave this last important task up to our families, who really don't need the pressure of trying to decide what kind of funeral you would have wanted, talk to your family even your firends and let them know what you would really want and like and do this one last thing to help them send you on your way.
My apologies for such a long comment, but I hope it helps someone who is facing the loss of a loved one or someone who is dying, to make their last wishes known.
Thank you so much for sharing your mother's - and your experience. So pleased to hear that you mother had a peaceful, painless death, aware that her loved ones were around her. Thank you also for highlighting the importance of end of life planning. We're really grateful for your contribution.
I am interested to know what research any one has come across on acheiving a good death. I know for me I want family members and my husband to be there for me to be kept comfortable and as pain free as possible. but what do others want?
What constitutes a "good" death varies from person-to-person. For example, one person might want all their friends and family to be present. Another may want only their life partner or priest present. Others may want no-one present.
I think that, just like we discuss birth and marriage plans, we should discuss (well in advance) with our loved ones, doctors, and carers, what we hope and wish for when our end is approaching. This should include the type and extent of medical care, organ donation, the preferred location, and any last wishes or funeral plans.
Being open and realistic takes away the fear, doubts, and possible regrets many experience before and after a death.
Poets, professors, priests, and plain folks all opine about what makes a "good death." In truth, deaths are nearly as unique as the lives that came before them -- shaped by the attitudes, physical conditions, medical treatments, and mix of people involved.
Still, many have pointed to a few common factors that can help a death seem good -- and even inspiring -- as opposed to frightening, sad, or tortuous. By most standards, a good death is one in which a person dies on his own terms, relatively free from pain, in a supported and dignified setting.
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