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.
Beyond Dispute Associates
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Mariela Acosta says
I feel that this topic is toughter for me than for other persons. I think I would never overcome that moment which I pray never happen, although I know It will.
I think of my parents who are old, around 80 I pray for them everyday even though they have not been the best parents, but anyway they are my parents.
Having lost both my father and mother in the past nine months, and being with them through the suffering and their very last moments, I have to say that disembodyment is a terrifying experience. But if you are fortunate enough to make a heart-to-heart connection with your loved one while they are in the process of departing – the experience – at least on this side of the veil – is a gift beyond measure. Just like the newborn who first enters the world, falling into the arms of her loving parents, the comings and goings of the soul is truly a magnificent event to witness. So much of what we believe is dependent on whether we see our existence as either infinite or finite. Because I believe we are infinite beings having a physical experience, the transitions are more like gateways into new and wonderful beginnings.
Faye Turner says
If there is such a thing as a “good death” this is it for me. A good death is when you die on your own terms, with the people you love near you and remembering all the times you had together.
Sure she suffered a bit, who would not with terminal cancer…but her pain did not stop her from enjoying her family for the last time.
Don Greenstein says
In order to have control at the end society must encourage discussions and end of life (EOL) planning. People must take control and decide what they want and share it with all the people they love. I mediate EOL matters and the sadest part is that many families do not discuss their desires and concerns, or put in place appropriate legal documents. In those cases their family or the Doctors/Hospitals/Court have to make the decisions which usually are not what the person or the family wanted… Think ahead, have discussions early on and prepare your own family for what you want. Mediators can and do help but having legal documents or a written expression of what a person wants is a better starting place than having nothing at all.
Thanks Sig for sharing this wonderful life story.
Rebecca lives on in all the lives of the people she touched!
Elizabeth Jackson says
Rebecca set a powerful,tender, highly productive example for many others. In my personal experience, death can be sudden without warning or announcement. And I have had at least two personal experiences where this occurred. When this occurs, there are countless questions that cannot be answered after such events. Rebecca achieved a great accomplishment and the example stands as par excellent above all.
Joy Davidson says
Is there such a thing as a good death? If there were no such thing as a good death, then we would be saying that the only way to die is via lots of medical interventions, trauma, and endless prolonging of suffering until death finally wins. I have said that living is part of dying and dying is part of living. Live life to the fullest, but when it is time or someone is ready for death, then let it be facilitated with all the love and dignity we can give our loved one. That is the greatest love!
Hank Dunn says
Good deaths are possible. It just takes a lot of planning and preparation. Ending up in the ICU with tubes and machines, for most of us, is the accident. Plan ahead if you want to die peacefully with your family gathered around. Good piece Sig.