What does a good death look like?
July 14th, 2020
It depends on who you ask. Different things are important to different people. Some people would just like to go quietly and not know other people would love to know and plan every detail. Some people would like to say goodbye or not or be doing something fun. Some people just want to hold a hand. It's worthwhile thinking in advance about what it looks like for you, before you're looking at it. My death plan is a long-term wonderful life. But if there's an illness, or an emergency, how I die looks different in each one of those things, so I need to consider what a good death would look like in any part of those situations where there are choices to be made.
July 21st, 2020
People often ask me how to have a good death and my advice is build your community. Because we can't control how death happens. We can't control if it's fast or painful or if we're old or young. That's part of the mystery of living and dying. We need to find a way that allows a good death, regardless of the conditions of that death.
So, is it possible for a sudden car accident to actually be met as a good death? No one would want that death, of course. But can we meet it well? In my experience, what allows us to meet it well is community support, when we have those we love around us. It also helps to have channels that allow that support to hold and guide us.
I work a lot with ritual and ceremony and one of my ways of understanding ritual is that it creates a channel through which energy can flow. So often, there's love and there's support, but there are no ways for that to flow. So the two things that will allow a death to be beautiful and healing, even if it's tragic, is a community around you and a way for them to support you.
August 19th, 2020
A good death should only be determined by the person dying and their family and community. It is personal, unique, subjective and therefore experienced differently each time. So, I think the concept of a good death is flawed… sometimes pain can’t be controlled, sometimes death can be messy… or the timing can be terrible as people are desperately making their way to the bedside but death reaches there first… does this make those deaths bad? I think not. A death being ‘good’ infers that there can be a ‘bad’ death… and a part of me thinks that this is not right, there should just be death - met with honesty and without judgments of ‘good’ or ‘bad’; met with the best of intention and a dedication to making the most out of the circumstances afforded the dying and their community in those moments. This means that the dying and their family can decide if the death was ‘good’ for them, based on their lived experience, without it being compared to a standard of ‘a good death’ being held up as the ideal attainable goal.
August 29th, 2020
You often hear people say that a good death is one that happens in one’s sleep, without them knowing what is happening. From what I have seen, I would say that a good death is one where a person has had a chance to prepare by saying goodbye to the people they love. Their pain is under control, and they feel that they have lived a worthwhile life. They are held in love by family and friends, and they feel ready to let go of their body.
Marggie Hatala BSN, RN, CEOLD, Reiki Master, AuthorSeptember 23rd, 2020
A good death looks like a reflection of the dying person’s life. We each have our own unique connection to life and living, and each of us will surrender our body in a way that affirms this. For some, it will be a peaceful time spent in the presence of loved ones, for others they will use all means to maintain life and die more suddenly. Each is correct if chosen with intention and integrity with their spirit.