We live our lives expressing our values: our spiritual beliefs, the friends we choose, what we read, what we eat, how we vote, how we dress. Yet if we do not prepare for the death that inevitably awaits us, we risk an end of life that does not honor the values we hold so dear.
What is important to you? Doctors will rarely ask you this question. Your loved ones may find it difficult to ask, too. So it’s up to you to ask yourself. What is it for you that, when the end is drawing near, will allow you a sense of peace in your heart?
Enjoying the beauty of nature? Listening to a certain piece of music? Watching football on TV? Eating chocolate or ice cream? Having your family near? Being fully conscious of every present moment? The knowledge that you are fighting right up to the bitter end?
Take some time to think about this. Being realistic, what would your best death look like? Becoming clear about this, and sharing your vision with your loved ones, gives you the best chance of making it happen. It is a gift to your loved ones, too, if they are able to give you the death you wanted.
Most people say they would like to die in their own home, yet most people die in hospitals. How do we keep succumbing to this breach in our values? If we prepare in advance, rather than in the panic-stricken mind-set of critical illness, we can make decisions that honor our dying process as much as we honor life.
“If we value so highly the dignity of life, how can we not also value the dignity of death? No death may be called futile.”
~ Yukio Mishima