If dying is to be meaningful, spiritual, or even just peaceful, it does seem that we should know when we are dying. But how will we know? In the movies, the last minutes are so obvious. Whether hero or villain, profound words and meaningful glances are offered before the eyes close and the last breath escapes from the lips. But if we wait for the obvious in real life, we are likely to miss the chance for any meaningful expressions. Most of us will die of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, or dementia. Many will live with these diseases for years before dying of them. Often, your diseases and their related symptoms are treated with medicines and procedures and all the while you feel mostly well. So when do you stop seeing yourself as "living with " these diseases and start seeing yourself as "dying of " them?
Those things that people do while dying have a special meaning. Deathbed requests and confessions are particularly powerful. Getting one's affairs in order, taking one last trip, and saying goodbyes are especially poignant, and are to be encouraged even if very difficult to do. Yet, if you don't know when you are "dying," you might miss the opportunity to do these things. And doing them before you are really "dying" often might seem out of place, premature, even irresponsible!
To learn more about the book "Handbook for Mortals" click here.