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TaoSan's avatar

What happened to dying a good death?

Asked by TaoSan (7106points) June 2nd, 2009

Okay, so, I know it all sounds cheesy. I was sitting here pondering life, and it came to me that the vast majority of humans die either by accident, disease or age.

Now, call me a romantic or whatever, but really, what happened to Bushido? A good and honorable death, preferably in battle for an honorable cause? (since we don’t battle so much anymore I’d accept a crash and burn in a Vegas Black Jack & Hookers competition, or crashing your bike at 180 trying to beat a speed record also has a nice heroic ring to it).

But seriously, what’s your take? Senselessly fading away in a hospital room or on an operating table, or glorious, so your name will echo through history?

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30 Answers

dynamicduo's avatar

I’d prefer to let people use their brains rather than their brawns to create a name for themselves.

The fact that we die of old age instead of being eaten by a bear or tearing each other in half is, in my opinion, a great thing.

My definition of a good death is dying once I’ve lived a very long time. I don’t care much for adventurous deaths.

DarkScribe's avatar

It died a natural death. Nowadays people want risk and excitement.

My definition of a good death is one that is always “tomorrow”.

TaoSan's avatar


Agree, I’m not promoting axing each other down again; or even moronically risking your life in “unsound” acts of stupidity. But the day you’ll die will come, one way or the other. So, the question still remains, since you have to die at some point, would you rather do so in a memorable act of bravery/nobility/selflessness that will “immortalize” you, or fade away?


You say nowadays, but frankly, in the history of humans the span of time where a man’s death wasn’t expected to be of such nature is only about 250 years, so, our concept of “managed, late, meaningless death” is relatively new and unproven too.

dynamicduo's avatar

@TaoSan I would prefer to use my life and immortalize myself via my abilities and creative skills versus have some type of death that’s gawked at through the mainstream media for 15 minutes, then forgotten and only remembered when drunk frat boys are playing trivia.

The alternative to a brave death is certainly not fading away. It’s being remembered by people who you actually care about versus being remembered by people who don’t mean a shit to me.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I will not die of old age, of that I am certain. I’m never going to slow down, and if I get killed in the process then so be it. I cannot think of anything worse than spending your days trying to remember where your glasses are, fishing for the bedpan and eating slop because your dentures are broken. Personally, I would rather die earlier and happier.

TaoSan's avatar


I don’t share the opinion entirely, but you certainly make a good point. lurve to that…


Agreed, I’m a crash and burn man myself…

Zaku's avatar

Some notions:

* Jihadists seem to be doing quite well at this in recent years.
* Watch some “Wildest Police Chase Videos” type TV shows – those people are often going for something a little like this, albeit also generally a drunk and/or retarded version.
* See “Gran Torino” for a film celebration of this.

Lupin's avatar

If you decide to go out with a bang or crash and burn, please pick a method and location that that will not cause undue stress on the family, rescue and cleanup crews. Some if the images stay for a long time.
No matter how well Uncle Charlie lived his life, he will be remembered for how he ended it.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Lupin I agree with you there. I do not want to cause anyone undue stress or discomfort in life or in death. How I end up going depends on far too many factors to choose a method now, but I do not want to cause that sort of stress and pain for anyone.

TaoSan's avatar

This is derailing a bit. For clarification. A good death is not jumping in your car, clipping three pedestrians while running from the cops then crashing.

Dying while rescuing others in a selfless manner is a good death, dying in the pursuit of a noble cause is a good death, heroic acts in war are a good death. I’m not talking the kind you’d see on COPS or Jackass Gone Wrong.

(And yes, Black Jack and Hooker contests are a glorious and honorable pursuit, for lack of damsels in distress these days:).

Crusader's avatar

Your Death Mask, (upon dying, not the coroners version…) will can be interpreted by the wise, and is a determinant of both how you lived you life and where, if anywhere, your spirit will transmogrify too…

Kayak8's avatar

I have worked with death and with dying people for over 20 years. I had one client who actually died because he was hit by a car. At the time I remember thinking that it was somehow unfair until I realized there was some intention on his part (stepping into traffic) to take control back for himself.

Engaging in risk taking that has the highest level of risk (one’s potential death) is somehow separated from intentional suicide. Yet, I am not sure how different the psychology of these two acts (suicide and thrill seeking) really are. Perhaps it is that the former hopes to be successful and the later does not.

The only difference may be in intent, the outcome can so often be similar:

1. outright success—you are dead
2. partial success—you are only permanently damaged so you can’t try it again
3. abject failure—you live to learn from the lesson

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Do you have to go out with a bang, or in a blaze of glory, to have a good death? My Dad died of cancer, having survived combat in WWII. Yes, he died in a hospital bed, full of morphine, with an oxygen loop in his nose. Not a death anyone wants, but he faced it just as courageously as anything he did in the war; perhaps even more so. I’m proud of him for that.

rooeytoo's avatar

I have been risking my life in assorted ways all my days and so far all I have done is wreck my knees. I still love the rush from taking a chance and living to tell the tale.

I don’t feel the need to make a statement by my dying, but no way I will wither away in a hospital room. I have Dr. Death’s contact info in my laptop and will take that step hopefully long before I would lose the ability to do so.

But that said, I would prefer to go out with a bit of flair, just not sure what that might be? It would have to be pretty spectacular to echo through history, most are forgotten in a generation or two.

Lupin's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh Thank you! Maybe I tend to look at things a little too pragmatically. When “Uncle Charley” kills himself with his trusty old Ithaca in the family room, he is one least hurt by the act. Family, EMTs, friends, neighbors, taxpayers… Everyone else loses. Even the house value goes down. “Say, wasn’t this the house where…?” Very selfish.
If you’re going to do it, wreck a motorcycle while doing something fun and stupid.

Harold's avatar

I remember having to attend to a 28 year old man who blew his head away with a shot gun, back in the days when I worked in a hospital full time. I can only imagine what his family went through when they found him- it was bad enough for me.

Personally, my method of death doesn’t matter, as I won’t know anything about it after I’m gone. It is those who are left behind that matter.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Harold You may know about the process of dying, if it is drawn out enough. Does that have any bearing on your decision?

Sariperana's avatar

The most heroic death i have ever heard of was when i was passing through the Mont Blanc tunnel, from France through to Italy… its the story of Pierlucio Tinazzi

Harold's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh – yeah it does! I am allergic to pain!

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Harold So then the method of death does matter to some extent.

TaoSan's avatar


That’s the spirit!!! GA

Welcome to fluther

aprilsimnel's avatar

@Lupin – Eeesh, I was just reminded of that young lady who died a few years ago wrecking her father’s Porsche, and somehow the photos of the scene were spread over the internet. I saw them – Ugh! Yeah, I’d take a hospital bed over that.

I just want to die at home surrounded by loved ones.

mattbrowne's avatar

You could view hospices as special hospitals. For some terminally ill patients (like my uncle who died of lung cancer a year ago) hospices offer a “good” death compared to the alternative of not being in a hospice. Palliative care is a modern form of medicine. I consider it progress.

Jayne's avatar

Unless you are going to join a rescue service, which is unlikely if you are sufficiently unsound of body to be lining up your death, then your chances of finding someone to save heroically are rather slim. Any other kind of “noble death” is really just assholery; it may make the dudes down at the bar go damn!, but it makes things harder for those that know you and, as in the case of riding your motorcycle to a fiery death, can kill others as well, which would make you worthy of the worst, most lingering death imaginable. There’s a reason some ideas go out of style. It doesn’t make sense anymore to seek out a heroic death, only to try to help others with your remaining life, leaving the option open of dying in the process.

TaoSan's avatar


Disclaimer: Professional driver closed course. Do not attempt at home.

On a side note, I’m just noticing, everyone seems to be concerned with those left behind. Seems a bit “egocentric”, as in, please die in the fashion I can digest best.

Jayne's avatar

If you’re dead, your opinions don’t matter, do they?

TaoSan's avatar


who knows these things for sure…

cyn's avatar

@Jayne Even if we’re not dead, we don’t matter. If we did matter, we would already be happy smoking marijuana legally!

Dog's avatar

It has always been one of my personal goals in life that I be remembered for who I was rather than how I died. (I determined this when I was a teenager and ran out of gas on a remote highway in the middle of nowhere in a raging snowstorm at night. I had a few numb and shivering hours to envision how my story would become the legend of “stupid” in my hometown. ~My parents would have been so proud.~)

I suppose though I would not mind- nor would I hesitate- to take a bullet for one of my family or a child.

While I would not seek such a situation I know that if a case presented itself where I could act to save another even if it put me in peril I would do so- because if I did not at least try I would spend the remainder of my life wishing I had.

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