I’m not sure how to do die; I’ve never done it. There are some people that liken being born to dying. Most people who have given birth or assisted others to do it maintain that there is an interplay between the mother and the baby. It isn’t a passive process on the baby’s part. So therefore, I suspect that in some deep primeval part of me, I know how to be born. I don’t think I was taught such a thing, just as I wasn’t taught how to give birth (at least in my case, all the instruction I’d had went out the window when the first serious contractions hit). Hopefully instruction on how to let go will happen the same way. When I need such knowledge presumably I’ll be supplied with it.
I do know how to assist somebody who is dying, at least in a limited fashion. The orders for comfort care are roughly the same. There are exceptions of course, and about this point, hospice gets called and they send a nurse to do an intake and an assessement. Usually they don’t come on 11-7, so I’ve never had the opportunity to meet these amazing nurses who midwife the dying.
What is a good death? Certainly many people want to go quickly, so they won’t know it has happened until they are already on the other side. Others want their loved ones around them, and the input of some sort of religious advocate. I think probably something similar can be said about childbirth. Some people turn it into a party. Others prefer to labor and birth alone, or attended by one person. I’m certainly in the latter category. Very likely that’s how I’ll end up going if I get the option.
But in dying, people may or may not get the option. The most common way that people indicate their wishes is via a health care proxy form. This is the standard one is MA. Because in MA the Massachusetts Medical society asks you to contact them in order to get one in another language here is a Spanish one. Here is a Vietnamese one. If you don’t have one of these, I suggest you get one signed immediately. Essentially the document points out the person who is supposed to make decisions about your care should you lose the ability to make those decisions.