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Dying Quickly vs Dying Slowly - Livin' the Good Life

Jan. 19th, 2007

04:26 pm - Dying Quickly vs Dying Slowly

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Years ago, I remember asking Kathy if she would like to die quickly or have it be long and drawn out. (I asked her stuff like that because she worked in hospice and I considered her an expert on dying.) I said I definitely wanted to die quickly... the quicker the better. But, she said that ideally she would die after about a year of "preparation". I was horrified. That sounded way too long. So, she explained that there are many things to do to ready yourself and your loved ones for your passing. She said that financial arrangements should be made so your family is taken care of and your stuff goes where you want it to go. There are all the things you always wanted to do, but were too busy to do them. There were conversations you wanted to have with certain people, but never got around to having them. She wanted to leave as much of herself behind as possible. In her case, that meant to write a book on grieving, write personal letters to all her kids and grandkids, write the story of her life, make teddy bears out of her clothes so her children would have something to hold and receive comfort from after she died, get all her favorite songs on CDs to be passed out to everyone at her celebration of life, she got her son a puppy, because the old dog they had owned together was not long for this world, and she didn't want him to suffer two losses so close together. Since her son was living with her until she died, and he would inherit the house, she had to make sure he knew all about the house and how to take care of everything. She loved to go on trips with her kids, so she made sure to go on a couple of trips with them before she got too incapacitated. Looking back, I'd say she accomplished what she wanted because she died slightly over a year from her diagnosis, and she did everything on her list. I think she was at peace when she died. I realize that I keep talking about Kathy and her death. It was such a profound and touching experience for me that I HAVE to write about it. It seems like the most meaningful thing in my life right now. I imagine it will gradually lose it's hold on me (in fact, I think about it less and less), but I'm truly enjoying it while it lasts.