ELDER MUSIC: Songs of Irving Berlin
A TGB READER STORY: Practicing Patience

Dying My Way

Today marks four weeks since the doctors told me cancer has reasserted itself and there is no treatment. That news was not a surprise. Although I had been pronounced cancer-free since last January, I knew it was more likely than not to return.

Right now my timeline is squishy. Chemotherapy begun last Wednesday is designed to slow the growth of the new tumors and thereby extend the estimated time during which I will feel healthy before cancer symptoms begin to kick in.

As you might imagine, a lot has been running through my mind, ping-ponging around as I explained in a post last week, on a wide variety of end-of-life-related thoughts and feelings.

Even so, I have found a lot to laugh about in all this. I've always had a well-developed sense of the macabre – so much so that it's been a long while since I've thought of it as black humor. To me it's just funny alongside every other kind of funny. (Unless I'm whistling past the graveyard and don't know it.)

In the interval where I live these days between the belief (shattered now, of course) that I am the one immortal and my ending, there are personal decisions to be made. An important one to work on has been about how I want to spend my final months.

The broad outline is already settled and I will write about that in time. But an issue came up Friday when I was approached about reviewing a book that, the editor wrote in an email, explains what's wrong with how we die these days and what people can do to die in a manner that is better – at least, according to the author, a medical professional who has worked with terminally ill people for some years.

If the book were a general critique of (to borrow an old phrase) “the American way of death,” I might not be as offended even if the title does read as too much a projection of the author's personal preference for end-of-life.

After 25-plus years of studying aging, death and dying I know that no one really understands growing old until they get there themselves. I have unlimited gratitude and admiration for caregivers of all sorts. They are special in ways I cannot match but they do not KNOW about old age in a real sense until it is their time.

Similarly, I have learned now that living with a death sentence cannot be imagined. No one can understand until or unless they are tagged with that verdict.

What puts me off is the evident certainty in the book title (particularly couched in its boomer-generation phrasing) and the description I received that the author knows what values and priorities should define a person's dying days.

Let me be clear about that: There is no right way to die. Equally so, there is no wrong way.

* * *

NOTE: I am not telling you the names of the book and the author for several reasons: I have read only a fairly thorough description of it in an email, it will not be published until next year and it contains information about navigating the medical establishment during one's last weeks or months that could be useful to people who have not researched this as extensively as I have.

Further, in the 15-year history of this blog, I have made it a rule to write only about books I can unequivocally recommend which is not something I want to change at this late date.

In these circumstances, it would be unfair to me to leave readers only with my personal objections. Hence, no title or author.

* * *

Making a choice about how to die - which is another way of looking at being given a medical death sentence - is highly personal, maybe the most personal act in a lifetime.

So I am going to rely on what I have come to believe from all the decades of study I've done to inform how I spend the remaining time of this last journey.

Most of all, I do not want to be influenced by anyone else's idea of what they believe is a good or right kind of death.

I am being careful to do some things - and just as careful not to do others - to ensure that my death (and the getting there in the interim) is my own. Among those things is not to read other people's advice about how to die.

Have you given this choice any thought?


Like you say, it is very difficult to predict if one is not dying. Because that changes everything. I have a few of my wishes written in stone: I am donating my body for research to the local medical school. I have made difficult and lasting decisions with regard to my estranged daughter. I want a remembrance of my life rather than a funeral. and that's about it. I also have a DNR affixed to my wishes (Do Not Resuscitate) and am currently exploring the Dying with Dignity option here in Canada.

Thanks for sharing all of this, Ronni, it offers me comfort.


No way am I able to envision what you're going through, though I'm trying. I'm also finding this trip a way to welcome new perspectives, to explore vicariously what you're experiencing and forming a place for myself at the table.

How I die will not be my last choice. It's going to more likely be what music, red or white wine and where. It's only for each of us to make, with knowledge of choices and their ramifications provided by others who relate their own. Mostly, I'll likely draw upon native cultures, or Joseph Campbell or perhaps make my own way.

Last night I read about Chrissie Hynde(sp?) and how she's made her "wild, hedonistic" life, as she chose. Then continued with an A. Lamott book filled with her take on how she navigated a tough beginning. For different reasons, I admire their decisions, especially the 'selfish' ones.

So those are food for my thoughts on how to live, and choose, beyond this point of time. No one can tell you how to live any more than they can tell you how to die; that's part of our personal story.

Ergo, it's a check on how not to judge others for their choices, at any time, for any reason. It's a huge waste of time and energy.

It is unfathomable for anyone who is not going through it. I'd hope, for all of us, that we die pain-free in our sleep. I know that is unlikely for all - but devoutly to be wished. I hope your diagnosis was premature and that we will have you around for longer than anyone thinks.

I am so with you on saying/thinking, an absolute big fat No thanks to unsolicited instructions, how-to's, and other opinions on how to think, feel, want, wish, remember, believe, appreciate, be, and not be. However, Yes to How to... change a light bulb, backup data, locate a missing person or thing. Those kinds of mechanical, logistical tasks. XO

I got a whole new perspective on the death and dying thing a few years ago when I was given a 50/50 chance of pulling through an illness, and to my surprise I was ready to accept either outcome.
Now don't get me wrong, I didn't want to die. But lying there in the I.C.U. with the sounds of monitors, respirators, and IV alarms surrounding me, I felt that I was mostly dead anyway, and all I had to do was to cross over if and when I felt that it was the right time. It's not really like being in control of our demise , but it's as good as we can expect.

I so agree with your article. The person asking for your thoughts/input to me is a perfect example of someone who hasn't lived long enough to know that you can't control everything and that there is no perfection in living or dying. I think there is more common sense and true insights from your reader than any researched book could ever offer.

My husband went through this 5 years ago. He talked about thinking he “should” be doing “important” stuff but what he actually did was slow down and appreciate nature - sunsets, landscapes, our garden. One of my friends said her plan for retirement was “being fully present “ with the people she loves, and that is what I observed and experienced with my husband. He died in the hospital which sounds harsh but he was surrounded by compassionate and knowledgeable caregivers throughout his dying.

I am curious - are you planning to write your own obituary? I have thought about this quite a bit over the past few years, as a few of my close and lifelong friends have died ... and their obituaries, likely written under duress by family members, have often been dull accounts, laundry lists of milestones - many times with gross inaccuracies. I've also been graced to read a few amazing obituaries - most I cannot imagine were not written prior to the final event - with the subject involved in the creation.

My sister and I were called to write our father's obituary after he died rather suddenly on his 97th birthday a few years ago. We were hard pressed to put together an account deserving of a life so well lived - dates, names, events were not at our fingertips. The ability to give the tribute to the kind funny and honorable man he was - we just couldn't muster it up along with everything else that was required. We were dealing with a myriad of the other necessary chores that come with the end of a life - along with our own grief. I almost instantly regretted the rather mundane obituary as soon as it was published. There was so much more that could and should have been said.

What are your plans, if any?

Hello, Ronni,

You are correct, no one can nor should tell you how to die, and/or what choices you should consider. However, ALL of us who have benefited from your wisdom, your humor, and your generosity in sharing your life can tell you how much you are appreciated and loved. You are deeply etched in our hearts and we are most grateful to know you as a friend and confidant.

I'm with you, Ronni. I'm not a fan of people who claim to to know what's best for others , i.e. religion, how to die, etc. These are intensely personal choices. Personally, I want some control (such as it is) over the dying process and so have a DNR, a Living Will, and a Healthcare Surrogate ( my ex-husband.). I want a kick-ass party when I'm gone with lots of shared laughter and love. What anyone else chooses to bring them peace of mind is their right and their business.

No two lives are alike, so it follows that no two deaths or dying experiences will be alike. Unless and until I know that a certain disease or condition is going to kill me, it's hard to imagine what the dying will be like. In my own bed, pain free, and in my sleep would certainly be my preference. I'd rather not see it coming because I'm a notorious worrier and anxiety would probably ruin whatever time I had left.

No, I guess I haven’t considered how I want to die. I am still in the “hoping to stave off the inevitable as long as possible” stage, though I know all I’m doing is buying time. I was pretty sure that time had come about 2 months ago when I was in the midst of of transitioning from one failing cancer treatment to a new drug. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong, down to the most minute, ridiculous detail. I was quite sure that this would the way that I shuffled off this mortal coil, in a comedy of errors.

Though I have an updated will in place, and all my financial information is in an electronic file with backups, there were some details I hadn’t specifically addressed. So on one particularly bad night, I wrote up the document detailing how to dispose of my remains in the most economical way possible, that a funeral was unnecessary as far as I am concerned, but that some kind of ritual must be conducted, for the benefit of my young grandchildren, if nothing else (ritual gives order to the universe)., etc. etc..

Once I’d done that, I felt better. Enough to finally relax enough to go to sleep.

I agree -- do it your way and ignore everything else. I was thinking of a topic you could write about. What to do with your stuff? We don't have children. We do have wills and an executor will be appointed. I guess they do an estate sale and divide proceeds as directed in the will? Even so, I think about proactively whittling things down in anticipation of the big event, but I'm not ready for that yet.

I'm 77. Back in the late 1970's I was Adjunct Instructor in U of M's Medical School. Another faculty member in Family Medicine was a pediatrician named Elliott. Elliott had some sort of cancer which went in remission. When it returned he made a movie for Family Medicine residents and medical students. He described what he wanted at end of life, namely nothing much. He felt that quality, not quantity, was important. He just wanted to drift off at home without machines nearby.

As his health deteriorated and he was close to death, a bunch of us went to Jackson Memorial to hear his wisdom. His wife was afraid to take care him of home, which is why he was now in the hospital. I remember clearly what Elliott said: "I changed my mind. I want every day more I can have."

So I've resisted planning anything, allowing me to make it up as I go along.

Lord protect us from the know-it-alls. My daughter-in-law's mom and aunt who are slightly younger than I (75 and 72) have their Washington forms of a POLSTs, Advanced Directives, and Do Not Resusitate orders all made up, are checking out Washington's Death with Dignity laws and are pressuring me to do the same. These two took to nagging me at the weekly family dinner table. I told them put a sock in it so to speak. Both my son and daughter-in-law told them to knock it off an they did. I am pretty sure they thought they were being helpful. I do have an Advanced Directive and my two children have my medical power of attorney. I'm not on with the rest of this. It's my choice.

Otherwise I am hoping to expire watching the sun go down over the mountains or at least have nature in view, not a hospital, although even here good luck with that. I have begun doing my walking outside town along a creek with trees and birds aplenty. Two weeks ago an older aquaintence of ours died of a heart attack while hunting in the mountains he loved all his life. I was both sad and glad for him.

For those commenting about writing one's own obituary, this info may be of interest. I wrote about reasons to write one's own obit, and finished by creating my own, way back early in my blogging life on July 12, 2006. The post is titled Give Yourself a Proper Sendoff. I've since made a few adjustments to update several statements.

Although my blog currently is on hiatus, the post can be found in the archives by simply doing a search on the title, date, or just obituaries. As Ronni and others have pointed out, death is a personal and individual matter. I think obituaries ought to be treated similarly.

In the eighties a dear friend of Beth's here in California, a woman who had no expectation of survival and every expectation of a rapidly diminishing and painful quality of life, exercised her right to choose the time and circumstances of her death. I was very close to her husband and he shared his feelings about their plans as they related to her very personal choice. Ironically, that choice then was illegal but it was perhaps easier to accomplish than it would be today.

After I read your post I thought about our friends, and I thought about the work we have done to finally get the "End of Life Option Act" on the books here. And I'm shaking my head right now at the complexity the act mandates... the "patient" has to make application to both an attending and a consulting physician, both medical professionals must be consulted within 15 days of each other... and on and on. At a time when a person might rather be thinking about cutting the flowers in the front garden bed and arranging them in a vase on the bookcase, at a time when a person might be reminding himself to breathe-in and breathe-out and to repeat that sequence as necessary, they are filling out forms to apply for the right to make a choice. They are encumbered by the need for prescriptions for drugs. It kind of makes me angry.

My experience with death is mundane. I've lost great grandparents, grandparents, and parents in that order. I've shared the loss of friends and relations with people they were close to. I've taken responsibility for putting down dear pets and companion animals at the end of their lives. I'm a procrastinator by nature, but a year ago Beth and I finally got around to the formality, the paperwork, of assigning a medical power of attorney and a Do Not Resuscitate order.

"Time Goes By" has always been a reminder for me that yes, time passes, we age, and eventually we die. It's the common condition. Sometimes that reminder hasn't been welcome, other times I've been grateful for your sharing of your experience, your research, and your choices, Ronni. What you lay out each week, the essays and blog posts you publish are guide posts on this otherwise poorly mapped terrain of aging in the 21st century. The map of this terrain has many paths but it seems to me like they all lead to a package nicely wrapped and labeled "This End Up."

Thanks again, Ronni and all the commenters. I'm aware of my chronic conditions and answered a friend the other day "I only have so much time in this life-time, and I choose to not spend any on that..." and I've even forgotten what it was. But tomorrow I'm attending my first "Death Cafe." I feel it's a good thing to start talking together about death in a small group as another opportunity. Not about any one person's death (probably) but about the things you bring up here. I'll let ya know what happens. Barb from "When I Was 69"

Thanks, Ronni. I've been working in end-of-life care (hospice and independently) for 26 years now and I've had so many different ideas about what my good death should look like (after I got over thinking about what others' good deaths should look like). I've come to realize that for me the greatest compassion and skill we can bring when we witness someone dealing with death is to just admit we don't and can't know anything and to just hold space for them going through whatever they go through.

People also often ask what I think is going to happen when I die and I've also gone thr0ugh generations of revelations and thoughts about what that's going to be like. After 26 years, when someone asks me now, I have found great comfort saying, "I don't have any idea but I hope I get to see my mother again." Blessings on you. Kim

Bless you. May your remaining days be rich and satisfying.

Ronni: Thanking you once again for your efforts and thoughts on TGB.

Your post's final line truly spoke to me today. Obviously a clear propensity exists somewhere in my aging Op-Ed brain to react when I read comments of this nature- e.g."Author knows" and even worse, "You should".

We humans often state we 'know' something without any real information OR first hand knowledge. Marketing, personal chest thumping? Who knows?...not me. But, intelligence and knowledge are not the same thing, in my opinion. A bit like mistaking the milk for the cow.

Next: the 'shoulding' habits of some folks. All of my family were big fans of a British man, Ashleigh Brilliant, (yes, his real name) and his single panel cartoons in the 70s. They were called "Pot-Shots". I still have an aging yellowed promotional flier my teenagers sent for by mail. One of my favorites was a caricature of a man in a tee-shirt emblazoned.... "DON'T SHOULD ON ME!"
To the point and succinct. Now that's real communication!

When my husband was diagnosed with lung cancer, I told him that the decisions would be his, and that I would support him no matter what I thought or felt. As his death approached, it was sometimes a struggle to do that, but I did manage to carry out his wishes. It ended up costing me some members of his family, although most of the people in our life were supportive.

Thank you as always, Ronni, for your mind-blowing wisdom and clarity. Love to you, now and always.

I can't add anything to the brilliant comments only to say, I absolutely agree that it's a personal thing that, having once faced what I believed to be imminent death I thought I knew how I would feel, but when the time really comes I don't have a clue as to how I am going to react. So it's one thing that I do not plan for.

Ronni, you are a very brave woman.
Ever since my son died unexpectedly last year, I've thought about my death a lot, and I have been doing whatever can be done beforehand: a will, last wishes (cremation, rites), I'm disposing of my documents, letters, photos, etc, anything that is not relevant for my sons and grand children.
And I'm trying to live fully, if not happily, this last period of my life.
I agree: nobody can tell us how to die.
God bless you!

I don't have much to add. I've learned--not uncommonly on TGB--that it's often the wiser course to add not-much when dealing with complex subjects about which there are various levels of (dis)agreement. And what subject could be more "complex" than death?

As to my own demise, my vote goes to a quiet departure in my sleep in my own bed (yes, I'm regularly reminded that this is unlikely). Although one never knows until the time comes, I've always been a strong supporter of Death with Dignity. Depending on presumptive cause of death, timing and circumstances, I believe I would avail myself of this option, which is legal although complicated in WA State.

When I'm gone, I'm gone. No funeral, obituary, fuss or feathers. The phone number of a junk removal company plus a check (if there's any money left) to cover clearing out and cleanup of our home will be in my Survivors' Folder. (This plan presumes that my husband has predeceased me which I SO hope doesn't happen but here's the math: he's 89 and I'm 82. . .)

The above doesn't sound quite as I intended. Ideally, my husband and I will shuffle off at approximately the same time--within days/weeks/months of each other. We've been happily married for 40+ years and neither of us relishes the idea of carrying on alone. As two introverts in a pod, we've never had a large social circle.

I have actually given the subject of how I want to die a lot of thought. I am in the mid-range of kidney failure and I only have one kidney. I watch "my numbers" on my twice a year kidney test and I know the number at which dialysis will be the only way to stay alive. I am not going to do dialysis. I've already checked it out and every cell in my body screamed, "Noooo!" I will be 73 in December and as Barbara Ehrenreich says in her book "Natural Causes," I am old enough to die naturally. I don't think I want to die at home because I don't want others to have to deal with that.

A friend of mine died at home because that's what she wanted, and it was really a major trauma to everyone around her. Everybody was running around warming blankets in the drier, updating her meds schedule, keeping the classical music going, crying - not that I think that was wrong, but it was hard on people. I'm going to check into whatever hospice I decide on. Although I know my spouse will be with me (if in fact she is still alive), and close friends will visit, it only takes about 3-4 days to die of kidney failure and I'd just like the professionals to take care of things. I've caused enough trouble in the lives of my loved ones and when people say "I just want to die in my sleep in my own bed," they don't take into account that it sometimes doesn't happen the way they are envisioning it.

So, Ronni, I am hanging on to your every word, and you. Although I've never met you, you will always have a special place in my heart, for as long as I live.

We are all hanging on every world and learning from you.
I'm still in the wearing out stage. Doctor's appointments, dentist's appointments...sometimes they seem endless. I don't know beyond that yet.

Not for the first time I wish your blog had a "like" feature so I could give a simple thumbs up to comments that really touch me.

Thanks for TGB.
I just got my copy of "As you think " by James Allen.
On page 76 he says " dream lofty dreams and as you dream so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil. "
Blessings and love.


There are several things I would like to fix on the blog and adding a like button would, as you say, be useful. But I'm just too distracted now by other, unexpected issues so I doubt I'll get to any of it (am I allowed to say this?) in my lifetime. (Heh!) I'm sorry.

I recently read a book about dying by an author who seemed a bit full of himself and actually had relatively little to say on the subject. However one point he made that stuck with me is that if you don't take control of your own death, there are too many people who will happily step in and do it for you. Planning how you want to die is almost an imperative. Then I watched a documentary about Timothy Leary's (planned) death and it was actually kind of sweet. I think what you are doing is spot on. I haven't planned my own exit from this mortal coil but it is more and more on my mind.

A good friend died last spring in the hospital and I was pleasantly surprised at the compassionate and sensitive care she got there. My mother and father both died at home and we kids took care of most of aspects of the process with the great assistance of a palliative care nurse. What I thought was nice about the hospital was that nursing staff took care of the more 'icky' aspects of dying so friends and family could just be with our dying friend/family member.

Whatever you choose, whenever, will be right for you.
To each his own, as the saying goes. My husband was one of those people who died unexpectedly in his sleep, which he might have welcomed if he’d had the choice, given the onset of constant pain with which he had been coping. He was spared what he knew from a young adult death-threatening illness that his aged future, now with development of multiple health issues, had poor prognosis with only increasing decline.

Previously legal documents he had in a file —those describing his wishes plus our having casually discussed our views surrounding dying throughout our 42+ years together— often prompted at the time of someone else’s death —
enabled our adult children and me to proceed with what gave us comfort as would also be in keeping with his wishes. I’ve arranged matters to best simplify actions my children might have to take relative to my extended life if I become unable to handle my affairs, any care I could need, or when I die.

Dust to dust — no funeral — no service — no formal burial. Any written obituary is incidental, but do want those who care about me informed of my death from addresses I have. What happens to my body remains after any possible organ harvesting, then cremation, matters little. The spark of energy that gave my body life on this earth will be elsewhere. My children will make choices in my best interest as well as they can, knowing what they determine with medical consult is okay with me.

Should the few family, friends still living choose to celebrate my life in some manner, that’s fine — as did friends do with my husband across the country from where we live now — but not likely, since so many have died over this decade later.

Oh my. So much in my heart and soul listening to what you are now facing Ronnie and dealing with my own impending loss ( of you!). This is huge! There is such an ache. You matter and are important and are our guide. A mentor. I will be rudderless and seeking some mooring. A safe harbor and more lessons to learn. Anyone want to volunteer to lead the way? We remain, or at least I do, seeking.

As to my own death, as I have expressed before quoting Wood Allen, not being there applies to not being there with pain. I don't want pain. Death should be our choice. It should not be wired and hooked up and beeping sounds. Let me go in a different setting and gently into the night.....with peace.

You are my friend. Always, even though we have not met. My sister lives in your neighborhood. Coincidence I was going to act upon someday.

With warm hugs and deep everlasting gratitude for the difference, you have made in my life.


Ronni? I seem to recall when you moved from Maine to current home you have a brother there. If so I hope you have a connection. My recall may be all wrong, apologize if it is.

I too have crossed the line. I might have a year, or a couple of years. Unless something else gets me first (always possible), ILD is going to be my ticket out.

I'm with you, Regina. I am old enough to die naturally. But not at home! An institutional setting might be less comfortable for me than if I had some ideal caretaker, but my husband is older than me with health problems of his own, and I really don't want my daughter and son putting their careers and families on hold to care for me. That wouldn't feel right at all. I want professionals to take care of the messy, undignified parts, so my family can concentrate on being with me when they can, and building a few more good memories of me, and of each other.

I count myself lucky that there are choices I can make in that direction. It might be the last thing I can do for them... to lead them to see that my going isn't a terrible tragedy, it's the ending of what has been, on the whole, a rather good life story.

Oh, and on the topic of writing my own obituary... to me that would feel as awkward as writing a resume. But that does give me an entertaining idea... I can demand that my family write my obit while I am still here! We can have a party, and lots of laughs.

A couple of years ago, I watched a 'TED Talk' about some of our cities (like NYC) running out of space for graveyards, and got interested in the idea of a "green burial." cremation seems to release a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere and some stuff can contaminate like lead fillings in teeth.

And, since the only places that are offerring green burials are in large metropolitan areas --I'm in outstate Michigan, I've filled out the paperwork to donate my body to a medical school.

While the thought of being a skeleton in a classroom, might not be appealing to some, I rather like the idea.

Thank you, Ronni, for sharing your wonderful journey. (A for a place for others to share, also.

I don't want to be buried. I want to be cremated and my ashes put in the ocean.

But since I won't be buried, I wont have a headstone. If I did, it would simply say:

"One of the many millions who was born, live, and died."

Beautifully said. Profound. I agree with you 100%.

So do I, Joe and Jean!

A couple of these comments have given me food for thought about where I would want to be as I depart this world. I don't want my family to be forced to experience the more unpleasant "physical" aspects of my demise, so maybe I need to think about dying at home vs. in the hospital (NOT the ICU, please!) a hospice or other institution. Thanks for the comments; they are now added to my think-about list.

I so wish I had come across your blog years ago. Just love it: your honesty, humour, excellent writing and thoughtfulness on this overall topic (aging) and esp dying - so rarely discussed. I'm impressed by your wisdom - and not at al surprised that you don't want other people's opinions on what is a good death. It is so very personal. I volunteer at a hospice and think that is where I will want to die. Less noisy/antiseptic/clinical than a hospital, but less burden on family and friends than dying at home.
I have much back-reading to do - and am looking forward to it. Superb Blog! Thank you.

This comment is late—I’ve been thinking about it for days. I agree with Sabrina—“No way am I able to envision what you're going through, though I'm trying. I'm also finding this trip a way to welcome new perspectives, to explore vicariously what you're experiencing and forming a place for myself at the table.”
So the new perspective part—why not read a book written by someone who has observed many deaths? Maybe there will be some wisdom somewhere, if not from the author, then maybe from one of the patients. If you were turned off by the advanced summary of the book, maybe the author was too. You know as well as I do that publishers put their own spin on books to do what they think will entice people to either read or review.
While I was reading your reaction, knowing how intelligent and informed you are, I was relishing the idea that you would review the book, and you would acknowledge the parts that felt true to you and skewer that parts that didn’t. Now we will never know.
I guess I’m the only one that felt disappointed that you refused to review the book. But I do acknowledge you have every right to spend the time you have left doing what you enjoy, and if something made you think you wouldn’t t enjoy it, then it’s your decision. But now I’m curious!

Your diagnosis has caused me to be less in denial about my own death, whenever it comes (I'm 65). This is a good thing. I'm taking every day of life less for granted, no matter what happens in it. I've wondered whether death will come without warning or if I'll have a few weeks or months advance notice. Seeing your process makes me hope that I'll have some time to do what you're doing: reflect, make arrangements, see loved ones. Thank you as always for sharing your actual experience and your wisdom, Ronni.

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