Why A ‘Good Death’ Matters

Chalk it up to my age and life experiences if you will, but I do find that I spend more time now than I did in my thirties and forties thinking about how we die. Trust me. I am not being maudlin, nor melancholy. Angry and frustrated are more apt descriptors. So I have to say I am encouraged when I see more articles in the press on dying and death, like Sandra Martin’s in the Globe and Mail http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/the-hospital/lifes-last-milestone-why-a-good-death-matters/article16896444/#dashboard/follows/ .

It’s through citizen action that we can raise awareness that our health care system, by and large, does not support good deaths. That is not a statement against doctors and nurses and all the other caring professionals. It’s a statement about how the system is organized, and how it is funded.

If we gave as much societal attention and funding to dying as we do to pregnancy, birthing and early childhood development then few of us would fear dying. And more of us would be equipped with the knowledge to help the people we love to die with grace. Margaret Mead once noted, “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Her observation is as true today as when she wrote it in the last century. We need a quiet, or maybe not so quiet, revolution to support good deaths.

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