A Good Death

I originally posted this elsewhere, and then after some thought, decided to share it here, too:

We all die.

This is a taboo subject in our culture, I think. Planning for death. 

We plan for childbirth. Women and couples make birth plans, carry them into the hospital or birth center or have them at their home with their midwife. There are wishes, goals, wants for comfort, music, peace, people to be present or not. Medication to be given or not. Requests to be followed in the event of . . .

But death makes us uncomfortable, kind of like childbirth used to make us uncomfortable maybe a few decades ago?

Have we lost our rituals? Are we afraid to ask for what we want or envision how we need things to be when we die, assuming there is a time and place for us to attend to these things?

Much like childbirth, especially that first childbirth, there is a huge fear involved with death. What will it be like for the person dying? Will I be able to make her comfortable? Will he know I'm there? Will it be scary to have him at home with us? Will I be able to take care of her on my own, or will I need help? What about pain? 

What I do know is that it is possible to give someone a good death. Just like it's possible to give someone a good birth. Not every time, of course. Just like not every birth turns out how we plan, but we can at least have a plan. We can at least discuss our wants with our families and friends. We can TALK ABOUT DEATH.

It doesn't have to be a horrible experience. It can be beautiful—yes I know that sounds weird in a culture that is averse to talking about the end of life as anything positive. But, it absolutely can be a gift you give to the person you love—giving them a good death.

It can be the final gift of love you bestow on them, and it's something I am so glad I was able to do for my husband. I had no idea what to expect, and it was a life-changing experience for all of us who were present to fulfill his final wishes and needs.