Dying Well

Dying Well

Led by Daniel Meyers — Butler University Center for Faith and Vocation and Anne Williamson — WayFinding

Much of the conversation was devoted to exploring what dying well means. Some said it involves the personal feeling that you are at peace, experiencing no regrets. It can mean feeling that you are leaving behind a legacy.

Several mentioned that dying well entails accepting that you did everything you could to achieve forgiveness and reconciliation with those around you. It means saying goodbye, resolving relationships, saying what needs to be said. This could mean that those around you know that your end is coming so they can also prepare

For some, dying well means having some control over one’s own death—not necessarily having a say in when to die, but at least having a say on how. Perhaps having the comfort of “my” home for the end.

Many agreed that the key to dying well is having lived well. Dying well is part of what one called the Art of Living.

Much of the conversations also addressed some of the social, ethical, and legal details of dying well. There’s an ethical question of how expensive it is to provide treatment in the final months of keeping a person alive: someone observed that 80 percent of healthcare dollars is spent on end of life care, for the final six months of a person’s life. Could that money be spent better in other ways?

Many agreed that it’s important to educate and inform doctors of what you want. More doctors are being open and transparent about options these days, but many legal problems and questions remain. Not everyone in the conversations understood how a living will works. At any rate, it’s important to start talking with family members and others courageously and honestly about what you want before and after dying.

Many people talked about how faith can inform the process of dying, how religious beliefs can provide a resource. Many believe death is part of God’s plan. For instance, if a person in pain asks “why am I still here?” the answer might be because you have something to learn, or something to teach.

For some, a religious perspective tells us that death can come at any time, so we should always be prepared. For others, a religious view can make it troubling to prepare for death, even with hospice: there is no need to plan for dying because God has the plan.

Some worrisome questions about dying and dying well remain. How do we reconcile when the views of family members, doctors, and the dying are very different? One participant likes the idea of having choices, as is allowed by the law in Oregon; but how do these choices apply to people who are mentally ill or children?

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