I commend this essay to you. It may change your life - and your death. I've excerpted the lead here with a link to no-charge access on the WSJ website. Be warned, the story might make you cry a little, but it has a happy ending - which is also the beginning.
The Ultimate End-of-Life Plan by Katy Butler
Wall Street Journal / The Saturday Essay / September 6, 2013
My mother died shortly before her 85th birthday, in a quiet hospital room in Connecticut. One of my brothers was down the hall, calling me in California to say, too late, that it was time to jump on a plane. We were not a perfect family. She did not die a perfect death. But she died a "good-enough" death, thanks to choices she made earlier that seemed brutal at the time.
She slept in her own bed until the night before she died. She was lucid and conscious to the end. She avoided what most fear and many ultimately suffer: dying mute, unconscious and "plugged into machines" in intensive care; or feeling the electric jolt of a cardiac defibrillator during a futile cardiopulmonary resuscitation; or dying demented in a nursing home. She died well because she was willing to die too soon rather than too late.
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My dad's death was similar to Mrs. Butler's - except that most of his family was timely and had spent the previous day at his bedside. He did not get his wish to die at home, but he almost did. As it went, he was comfortable and happy and the passing seems to have been painless. Thanks to his decision to let it happen and make it happen.
I'll try to follow my Dad's good example.