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gailcalled's avatar

What would you consider a good death?

Asked by gailcalled (52824 points ) March 26th, 2014

My sister’s 103-year-old former mother-in-law, with whom she
(and the rest of us) has remained very close, died on Saturday. Until only about six years ago, Nanny (5 feet tall and about 90 lbs.) used to be driven from Boston to us (160 miles west) with carrying cases filled with cooked brisket, blue berry pies and noodle kugel. Meat, sugar, white flour…the longevity diet.

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30 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Note from my niece;

Dear family,

… Nanny, our grandmother on my dad’s side, and a great favorite of all sides of the family, died Saturday afternoon. She was 103.

… after a wonderful day dressing up and going out shopping with a friend, sunning… on the beach, and getting a corned beef sandwich to bring back to the nursing home…. she collapsed in the lobby and died within moments….

She was more than ready to go, and had lived a full and wonderful life, but it is still heartbreaking to lose her after all this time together. She was a wonderful and complicated person, and an amazing grandmother and mother-in-law, among the many roles she had in life.

She was cremated according to her wishes, and we will have a celebration of her life further on in the spring.

Lots of love to you all,

janbb's avatar

Sounds pretty damned wonderful to me! I hope I am still visiting my sons with lasagna, luckshen kugel and brownies when I am 97 – or even 77! Not to mention sunning on the beach and corned beef (or even sunning on the beef!)

Coloma's avatar

About as perfect as it could be. I think sudden death is much preferable to a malingering demise. For me, when my life is reduced to sitting in a chair all day watching TV, I’d rather be dead. I am all about quality of life and to be housebound, growing cobwebs on my head, with nothing more to do than watch TV and spy on the neighbors little old lady next to me. haha
I’d rather be dead.

gailcalled's avatar

I may have to break my vows and try the local deli NY style corned beef sandwich myself. Will it live up to my memories?

Darth_Algar's avatar

As long as I die while I can still feed, clothe, bath myself and wipe my own ass then I consider that a good death.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

That sounds like a hell of a good life and a “good” death. I don’t want to suffer a long painful finish or go through dementia. I’ve been with someone in hospice care and that’s a rough way to go.
@gailcalled Go for the best corned beef you can find and savor a nice treat. They don’t give you extra points when you die for pleasures you didn’t have on earth.

Coloma's avatar

@gailcalled Oooh….have a heaping helping of sauerkraut for me!

Seek's avatar

If I could order that death up for myself, I would. That’s beautiful.

janbb's avatar

It’s such a shame that we can’t choose how we die or decline…..

zenvelo's avatar

I agree with everyone else, that’s a great way to go.

My grandpa died at age 97. His only child, my mom, had come and said good bye before she went back to where she was living overseas. That was about it for him, he got sick and died in about 48 hours, before she even made it all the way back. I always thought that was nice, say your good byes and then sayonara…

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@gailcalled I am glad you enjoyed the companionship of such a wonderful woman. She sounds delightful and full of vim and vigor. I know that all deaths are a time of sorrow, and I feel for those who knew and loved her. I hope all can find solace.

This was a good death.

I had a good Reuben sandwich a few months ago. I love good corned beef.

@Adirondackwannabe is correct. We don’t get points in heaven for living a restricted, Puritanical life. I honestly believe that god, whatever it is, put us here to relish everything we can. I think I’ll have some good roast beef with extra horseradish as my relish.

Edit to add: I love complicated people.

janbb's avatar

Now I’m just hungry for deli!

gailcalled's avatar

Tomorrow I have to go to the dentist’s to replace a temporary filling in a crown with the permanent one. I swing right by the local NYC style deli. That seems to be prophetic, doesn’t it?

janbb's avatar

It is ordained, my dear Gail! Just don’t bite into the rye bread on that side!

CWOTUS's avatar

A former neighbor (we moved, not she) who lived next to our summer place on a lake in Massachusetts provided an example:

At 90, she was still active as the church organist – and numerous other activities and organizations that I didn’t even know about – and active enough to walk around “the Island” in all but the worst weather. She had many friends in the area, having lived there most of her life. One summer day – in good weather – she failed to appear for her daily walk, and neighbors took note. Some came by the house to ask if she was okay. She wasn’t, but she said that she didn’t feel bad enough to call for assistance or want to trouble anyone.

Apparently someone thought that she showed signs that merited immediate attention, so they called an ambulance service. With the ambulance parked outside her door and the EMTs inside prepping her for the transport to the hospital, a crowd gathered outside. When they brought her out to place her in the ambulance, she was propped up on the stretcher so that she could greet her neighbors, smile and wave to them.

Later in the day she died peacefully in her bed at the hospital. R.I.P. Janet

EDIT: I didn’t even know this until just now.

Coloma's avatar

@gailcalled Don’t forget to bring Milo a goodie.
It would be incredibly cruel to not break bread with your best friend too.
Besides, he might leave one of his toys on the stairs as revenge.
I wouldn’t risk it. haha

gailcalled's avatar

@Coloma: He has already taken today’s revenge. Earlier, he knocked off a pretty photo of my daughter from the piano when he leapt up, The frame fell on the floor and the glass splintered.

Then, f that weren’t enough, for the first time since I’ve owned him, he barfed from a 30” high table rather than on the floor. Table surface, table legs, floor, crack between floor boards and the interior of a very large potted plant sitting on the floor close by all got sprayed. 32 feet per second per second.

GloPro's avatar

I would like to be squished by a boulder I never saw or heard coming. Splat!
no, I am not kidding.

cazzie's avatar

My father was telling jokes right up to when he died. He was suffering from some sort of pneumonia / lung infection and his heart was failing. The nurses went in his room to change his bed and dress him in clean bedclothes. They started undressing him but forgot to close the window curtains to the courtyard outside. He said, jokingly, ‘If you don’t close those curtains, I’m going to have you go out there and collect admission price for the show.’ The nurses laughed and closed the curtains. When they went to check on him later, he was gone. He always joked that he wanted to die when he was 99, being shot dead by a jealous husband. I want to die laughing at my own jokes.

chyna's avatar

I would love for my last day of life to be exactly as your cherished 103 year old friend.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

Here’s how I want to go.

gailcalled's avatar

Remembrances of things past;today I did buy and eat that corned beef sandwich on rye, with mustard and cole slaw. It was disappointing, greasy and gave me indigestion. Better to have enjoyed the memory, it turns out.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Crap. I was pulling for a really good one.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

That makes me sad.

AshLeigh's avatar

I can’t think of a way I would be okay to die. I feel like picking one less brutal way to die would be like saying that stubbing your boner is slightly better than slamming it in the door.
I rule at similes.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

^^Ooh! Just reading that hurts!

gailcalled's avatar

We just had another family member go out well.

At 92 and by his own choice, he died on Thursday after he decided to stop eating and only drink water. The family was in agreement. He died at home after 35 days, with hospice supervision.

His wife, whom he met in kindergarten and was married to for over 70 years, was with him.

He remained cheerful, comfortable and alert, he enoyed brief visits from family and friends, he listened to classical music, he smelled the fresh flowers in the room, he felt the fresh air from the open windows, he made jokes until the very end, and he never second-guessed his choice.

My mother’s boyfriend, also in his early 90’s, made the same choice (water but no food and hospice) and said good-by after 31 days. When I popped in for brief visits, he’d say, “Damn. I’m still here?” But when I remembered to turn the conversation to the stock market, he perked up and became very engaged.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

My grandma married twice. Her first husband, my grandpa, died fairly young of a heart attack. Her other husband was a health addict, cycling several miles in his bedroom every day, eating a chosen diet, no smoking, daily glass of wine, etc. He came down with Parkinson’s, and took a decade to die, miserable for most of it, and complicated by misdiagnosis, and cross medication. For most of my life I’ve had that comparison to consider. Which one I would pick is a no-brainer.

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