Is this a good death?
Dusk. It’s the hour of transition where night looms and day is bidding adieu. It’s also the ideal hour of my transition. These are my last moments on earth. I am dying.
I’m in my home. In a bedroom where french doors open up to a red wrap-around deck overlooking the mountains, I’m in a bed lined with high thread count sheets which soothe my fragile skin. The curtains on the doors create a cascade of colors which frame the dwindling sunlight in the scene before me. Orange, purple, yellow, turquoise, sapphire. The light catches flecks of gold in the jeweled toned drapes as they move with the breeze. Through the doors, the sky is lined with orange streaks from the sunset; it darkens quickly as daylight fades, contrasting the deep greens and browns of the trees on the mountains. What a delight for my eyes!
In the air is the scent of my favorite incense nag champa, along with the faint aroma of the candles lit around the room. These scents mask the stench of illness and my slowly decaying body. The odor of death is undeniable, but I smell like the mix of essential oils I have worn throughout life: frankincense, myrrh, with a hint of orange and vanilla. I inhale these scents that I associate with home—both in my body and in my abode.
Although my body is dying, there are no machines in the room monitoring my heartbeat or oxygen levels. In life, I enjoy see above the quiet and the sounds of nature most. I can only hear the soothing trickle of water from the creek below and the melody of the wind moving through the trees. Otherwise, there is a stillness. It is a silence in which my loved ones feast upon in their last moments with me in a body. But our love will make me immortal. Where love has been, love shall stay.
My partner, children, sisters and nieces and nephews are present with me as my body takes its last sips of fragranced air. A few long term friends have also gathered to joyfully guide me towards my next adventure. And the spirits of my loved ones who have gone before fill the room, ready to receive me once I transition. I feel the strength of their love that has been evident in the months they have selflessly taken care of me.
I lay helpless and vulnerable but peaceful. I am ready, for I have lived too fully to be fearful of death. The powerful intention of those that love me allow me to release from my body and embrace the unknown. I am grateful for all of the love and pain I have experienced. I thank my body for housing me so exquisitely during my time in it. Finally, I surrender with gratitude for the beautiful gift of life. I die; the falling away of a dream. Up, up, and away.
Today I am healthy, but my death is inevitable. This is my ideal death. Although I know I will not control the circumstances of my death, I would like to die delighting in my senses which are my greatest joys of being in a human body. For me, those are colors, delicious scents, soothing fabrics, nature, silence, and ultimately, the experience of love. A good death is where I am aware that it is approaching, I embrace it, and release what I enjoyed most while alive. I want to die consciously and embrace it as a rite of passage, just as my birth. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. This is my good death.
Even if you are healthy, you are dying bit by bit, day by day. Every step will bring you closer to your final resting place. Each breath you take will be one closer to the last you will ever take. Imagine your final moments as you release from your body. Although you likely will not be able to control the circumstances, it is not in vain to imagine your last moments on earth. It is an exercise in softening towards it and embracing the inherent shortness of life. What do you want to experience? What would make your death a good death?