There are several components that make up a good death. A good death is peaceful and pain free, family systems are in order and financial planning has been taken care of. Let’s explore further how these factors can work together to make one’s final exit a good one.
A fairly new medical specialty is palliative care.Palliative care means pain control. Pain control is not just for the dying population, someone suffering from chronic pain of any kind would benefit from good palliative care which can enhance their quality of life. Within the dying community this is a very important element of having a good death experience.When someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness, the last thing to worry about is an addiction problem. If by chance the dying person has a remission,the addiction can be dealt with later. Comfort care should be a priority at all times. There should be no reason to suffer at the end of life. Most large city hospitals now have palliative care. Two excellent resources for palliative care information are: The International PalliativeCare Resource Center at www.ipcrc.net andThe National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) at www.nhpco.org .
A good death is a peaceful one. Not only is the pain being successfully managed by good palliative care but family systems are in order.By this I mean that there is an acceptance of the upcoming death by not just the dying person but by the family as well. Too often family members long estranged remain so, or they spend time arguing over treatment options and not being fully present for their dying loved one. They do not use those precious final days to let go of past resentments and find the family love that should be there at this time. To put up a brave front, search for a long shot cure can only prevent dealing with the inevitable terminal situation at hand. As a loved one is getting ready to die, there is an opportunity to forgive and let go of the past hurts, to bring a sense of peace and closure. For those families who successfully navigate this time there are tremendous benefits to a better bereavement process.
With the baby boomers now coming into their own upcoming final years there will be a different attitude than in the past. In his August 2013 Time magazine article, Dan Kadler sees that boomers view a good death as more about a good life. They will nix any painful life extending procedures, use good palliative care and chose to die with dignity.
Sadly, too often people chose to not take care of their finances prior to the terminal phase of life. As uncomfortable as it can be to have these discussions with loved ones before the end comes, it is very hard following a death to sort out the mess that can follow if there are no final financial plans made. A legal representative should be contacted long before the end-of-life stages to set up a legal will or trust as well as making one’s last wishes known regarding extending life preserving treatments. A Do Not Resuscitate order (DNR) and advanced directives such as a living will and a medical power of attorney should be in place. These valuable tools can often make a huge difference as to the best outcome for a good death. People need to take charge of their own death by preparing written instructions stating how the medical decisions should be made according to their last wishes.
When all these factors are in place the chances of orchestrating a healthy end-of-life experience are there. When people are diagnosed with a terminal illness, there is still a period where a lot of living can be done and choices made. Dying well is accepting the prognosis,taking advantage of the good palliative care that the medical profession offers, relating to the people around you, and getting the most pleasure you can from your loved ones during the final days.