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Is there a best way to die?

...on serious topics that don't fit anywhere else at present.
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Compassionist
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Joined: July 14th, 2007, 8:38 am

Is there a best way to die?

#1 Post by Compassionist » January 3rd, 2015, 11:29 am

Cancer best way to die - ex-editor Source: https://uk.news.yahoo.com/cancer-best-w ... ml#yc8BWyf

A former editor of The BMJ journal has claimed cancer is the best way to die.

Richard Smith, who is chairman of the board of directors of medical smartphone app Patients Know Best, believes the opportunity to reflect on life before it ends is important.

In an article published in The BMJ, the 62-year-old wrot e that while most people tell him they would prefer a sudden death, he thinks that is very hard on the families of the deceased.

He went on: " The long, slow death from dementia may be the most awful as you are slowly erased, but then again when death comes it may be just a light kiss.

"Death from organ failure - respiratory, cardiac, or kidney - will have you far too much in hospital and in the hands of doctors.

"So death from cancer is the best ... You can say goodbye, reflect on your life, leave last messages, perhaps visit special places for a last time, listen to favourite pieces of music, read loved poems, and prepare, according to your beliefs, to meet your maker or enjoy eternal oblivion.

"This is, I recognise, a romantic view of dying, but it is achievable with love, morphine, and whisky. But stay away from overambitious oncologists, and let's stop wasting billions trying to cure cancer, potentially leaving us to die a much more horrible death."
The article made me wonder if there was a best way to die. Painless death is preferable to painful death - I think most people would agree with that.

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Dave B
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Re: Is there a best way to die?

#2 Post by Dave B » January 3rd, 2015, 12:24 pm

Well, this is a bit of a morbid subject but I do have an opinion about it.

To my mind the "gentlest" death is the sudden cessation of the blood supply to the brain. I have suffered the effect - though obviously the supply was restored soon after (thanks to my little electronic pal). In my case I was sitting at the computer and next I was staring at the ceiling. It was only because I remembered the "blush*" feeling that I knew what had happened, the therapeutic shock from my implant occurred whilst I was out.

You just "go to sleep"; no warning, no pain.

With me it was my heart beating so fast (tachycardia) that it could not get up enough pressure to get blood to my brain. In the case of a friend he suffered a catastrophic bursting of an undiagnosed and totally asymptomatic rising aortic aneurysm - he literally would not have known what hit him.

*The "blush" feeling is caused by the skin cooling to below the ambient temperature. There may also be a ringing or "gong" sound in the ears as the brain shuts down. The "faint" is exactly this and the primary treatment is to get the collapsed person at least level and maybe slightly head down whilst monitoring the pulse and applying CPR if necessary. "Sit with your head between your knees" is old but valid advice if you just feel dizzy and cannot lie down!
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Alan H
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Re: Is there a best way to die?

#3 Post by Alan H » January 3rd, 2015, 12:38 pm

A plug for the latest book from a friend of mine: Living with Dying: finding care and compassion at the end of life by Dr Margaret McCartney.

I have a (signed) copy, but not started it yet but I suspect it will be highly readable, compassionate and evidence-based!
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Dave B
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Re: Is there a best way to die?

#4 Post by Dave B » January 3rd, 2015, 12:47 pm

Alan H wrote:A plug for the latest book from a friend of mine: Living with Dying: finding care and compassion at the end of life by Dr Margaret McCartney.

I have a (signed) copy, but not started it yet but I suspect it will be highly readable, compassionate and evidence-based!
He's name dropping again! :rolleyes:
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Alan H
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Re: Is there a best way to die?

#5 Post by Alan H » January 3rd, 2015, 12:52 pm

:D
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

thundril
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Joined: July 4th, 2008, 5:02 pm

Re: Is there a best way to die?

#6 Post by thundril » January 3rd, 2015, 1:13 pm

"I wanna die in my sleep, like my ol' granpa. Not screaming in terror, like his passengers!"

Fia
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Re: Is there a best way to die?

#7 Post by Fia » January 3rd, 2015, 3:08 pm

:pointlaugh:

It's a thought that I've been musing on lately, Compassionist I'm sure we can all agree that no-one wants to die in pain. I think it depends on whether you take the view of the soon to be deceased or those left behind. i.e. a sudden pain free death may be better for the person dying but not for the family, and a more gently controlled dying may be better for the family but not the person.

There can be great dignity and much love in a well-controlled cancer death. I know this personally and professionally. Sometimes folk find reaching acceptance of their dying state very hard and research, demand and submit themselves to intrusive, expensive therapies that may make their lives a few weeks longer but not, to my mind, good living. This seems to be what Alan's book recommendation is about. I'll have a read...

I think the quality of our lives should be balanced with the quantity of years. I have seen too many folk being kept alive by a cocktail of meds when they have clearly stated, on many occasions, that they've had enough. One client would often reply to "Is there anything else I can do before I leave?" with "Yes. Shoot me. Please." So we'd often share a pot of tea and cry together. Not professional I know, but completely heartfelt.

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Dave B
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Re: Is there a best way to die?

#8 Post by Dave B » January 3rd, 2015, 3:16 pm

There is the consideration, of course, how "gentle" one's death might be on family and friends.

Something like cancer usually has an expected and obvious terminal phase where others may be prepared by getting some of their grieving with over before the event - that can be important I think.

In the case of "sudden" causes, with no real warning (like my friend's aneurysm) there is no time for others to prepare.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Sel
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Re: Is there a best way to die?

#9 Post by Sel » January 3rd, 2015, 3:35 pm

With my husband , I experienced his sudden but expected death. He was headed in for his 4th cancer surgery - 3rd liver resection - in 4 days and was off Warfarin. We really did not expect he would survive yet another surgery. As we sat laughing while trying to program a new cell phone and sipping on white wine, he sat bolt upright and said: "Something is wr..." and collapsed. He was gone.

Although the moment was very difficult, the decision to support his request to not have invasive efforts was an easy one. The EMT and I read over his personal directives and they only attempted to revive him with oxygen and CPR.

Many would consider this the most traumatic moment of my life. You know - it wasn't. It was a relief. If he had survived the coming surgery, he would have faced 6 more months of chemo and a guarantee that they could not stop this cancer. This way, the surgeon did not face losing him on the table, and I did not face watching him die a slow and painful death.

All his life he had hoped to die quickly like his Dad, Mom and two cousins. He did.

I guess he had the best of a bad situation - time to reflect on our lives, time to plan for the inevitable, and a painless death.

Well that was longer than I expected.
"The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge." Bertrand Russell

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getreal
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Re: Is there a best way to die?

#10 Post by getreal » January 3rd, 2015, 8:16 pm

Most of the deaths I have witnessed to cancer have not been peacefull, though most-but by no means all- have been pain free.

Most have though involved a lack of dignity (despite the beat attempts of staff. Being cleaned of faeces, when you cannot control your bowels, can never be called "dignified".) and a loss of control of your environment. I remember most vividly the moment my father in law needed a spouted cup to drink from. He had been struggling with a cup and staff - who were excellent- suggested a spouted cup. When I offered this to him he burst into tears and asked " have I come to this.". It was heartbreaking. Unfortunately, he also died in extreme pain. It was quite clear to me that the final dose of diamorphine he received ended his suffering.
He died of cancer and it was utterly horrible. This is despite him being cared for in his final 3 months by the wonderful staff at Erskine Hospital for servicemen.


In contrast my mother in law died 10 days after collapsing with a cerebral bleed. She was transferred to th neuro unit after 5 days at home. She deteriorated very quickly and hey took her to theatre to relieve the pressure on her brain. This restored her to be able to recognise us and to read some home made cards from her beloved grandchildren. She died within 24 hours of surgery, but it was incredibly peaceful. She died in her sleep. The extent of her bleed meant she was never going to recover and ey didn't attempt to resuscitate her.
I'd rather go like that than to cancer anyday.
"It's hard to put a leash on a dog once you've put a crown on his head"-Tyrion Lannister.

Compassionist
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Joined: July 14th, 2007, 8:38 am

Re: Is there a best way to die?

#11 Post by Compassionist » January 4th, 2015, 7:20 pm

Firstly, many thanks to all who replied to this morbid enquiry. It is fascinating to read your posts and learn from your experiences. I have seen many deaths. I have had several close calls due to accidents. My first encounter with death was at the age of five, when I saw people kill each other with machetes, spears, guns and bricks. People do terrible things to people. The death of my younger brother (aged only 8 days) was my second encounter with death. I was eight years old then. My brother died in the clinic he was born in. He never got to come home. He died in his sleep. The doctors had prescribed the wrong medication to my Mum when she was pregnant with my brother - she had pre-eclampsia. The wrong medications caused brain damage to my brother. If he had lived he may have suffered a lot due to the brain damage. Thankfully, his early death prevented much suffering. Since my early encounter with death and suffering, I certainly agreed with Buddha who said that life was suffering. I have come to view death as an escape from suffering. When my uncle died from lung cancer he was all skin and bones thanks to the cancer and the chemotherapy. From what I saw, I can't say that dying from cancer is the best way to die. I often wonder about how I am going to die. If it was up to me, I would choose a painless death, with time to say goodbye to loved ones and to make arrangements for funeral etc.

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