Death With Dignity: My Stories

Thought that I would offer a personal follow-up to my previous post on the topic. I hadn't heard any real life stories yet so I thought that I would share mine with hopes that you would share yours:
1) At 43, my first wife had cardiac arrest with her heart, lungs and kidneys shutting down. I could have kept her alive with a respirator (against her wishes and her doctor's counsel) but chose to let her go to be with Jesus.

2) With my dad we chose not to insert a feeding tube when he had trouble swallowing after experiencing a stroke. He lived another 5 months and at times could eat solid food and drink thick liquids (like ensure). He was never in any pain, was in pretty good spirits often recognizing his family members, and died quietly one night. Possibly, if I was more 'pro-life' we would have done a feeding tube and all sorts of measures to keep him live into his 90s ... he was heading for 88 when he died.
These two events were intensely traumatic ones for my family.. no one ever wants to be in these decision making experiences.. it would be so much easier if we weren't faced with them.. which begs the question.. do you personally have a document with advance medical directives? If not, you can get some info by just googling 'living will'.. we did ours for free.

I guess I didn't share my stories to invite your second guessing of my family's actions but simply to share my experiences. Like many of you I think that there is a definite line between letting someone go to be with the Lord and helping them in that journey. One of the issues that often comes to bear is the 'letting go' on the part of the loved ones.. sometimes we make it more about us than the loved one who is suffering.

I think that we have probably covered the ethical and philosophical parts in our previous discussion.. perhaps some of you might have real life examples to share.. I'd like to hear your stories if you have any.


  1. My husband's grandmother, a previous breast cancer survivor, was diagnosed with lung cancer many years later. She went through surgery and chemo for a year, and we all thought she'd licked the big "C" again. Instead, another cancer developed in her stomach, and still a third type in her liver. She decided it was enough and after several weeks of care in the hospital, asked to go home to die. There she stayed for two months, with amazing assistance from hospice care, family constantly visiting and she meticulously planning her funeral details - down to pre-ordering flowers. As she quietly passed into a coma, near the end, family was always at her side.

    The entire family had gathered one evening and read to her their assigned readings and speeches for her funeral, and as the last word of the eulogy was read, Nanny took her last breath. It was a perfect moment, what I picture when I hear of a dignified death - both for the one who passes and those left behind.

    You are right, KB. I need to have a living will, and help create a more perfect moment for those I love. Thanks.

  2. I shared some stuff on my blog. I don’t have a living will at the moment but my husband and I have started making arrangements.

    One of my theater professors knew he was going to die from cancer so he wrote the service himself. Lots of laughter just as he lived we mourned. It was a wonderful way to allow people to remember good times.

  3. I started my morning with your story Missy.. tearing up as I write.. truly a death with dignity story.

    Milly, your stories kept the tears coming.. what great examples of death with dignity.

    Thanks to you both for sharing and inspiring!


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