End of Life
Is There Such a Thing as a Good Death?
After several years of relentless chemo and radiation to check her cancer, Rebecca decided to die with dignity.
She consulted with family members and some close friends and then contacted a nearby hospice. Whatever ‘tough conversations’ there might have been were brief, open and honest. How could anyone object to Rebecca’s decision after all the various treatments that she had undergone? Everyone was in the loop: family members, close friends, some neighbors and a few former colleagues.
When Rebecca became so weak that she could no longer eat or take care of herself, we all knew it was time. I recall one of Rebecca’s last cognitive acts was to view a DVD of her grandson performing in a piano recital. Then she rested, grateful for having viewed her grandson’s artistic triumph.
For the three or four weeks that she lay in bed, a constant stream of family, friends and neighbors visited with Rebecca. She lay in her furnished basement apartment. Soft music penetrated the space. A scented candle burned. Each visitor brought his or her own special treatment ‘modality.’ Some sang, others massaged her limbs, a few talked quietly, reminiscing about happier times they had spent together. What was so impressive was the solace that pervaded the room.
Except for the early hours of each day, Rebecca was never alone. When she died, everyone was at peace…with her and with themselves. We felt sad, but not depressed. I learned that her last breaths were labored and short. Then nothing. We all shared a part in Rebecca’s passing. Because she gave us a bond that we will never forget, our gratitude to Rebecca is boundless. She allowed us to be part of her vigil of peace.
Contributed by Sig Cohen of Beyond Disputes Associates, www.toughconversations.net