Month: March 2014

Planning to Die Well

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When it becomes impossible to avoid death and dying, you may want to consider whom you want to ‘Be There’, even though no one is able to provide more than comfort. Consider setting down information that can make clear your preferences. The purpose is not to replace the physician, pastor, hospice team or other counselors; but to assist them, you, and your loved ones in this universal life experience that is at least as significant as any other, including birth.

Think about your personal beliefs about death:

Consider experiences that seem death-like:
The condition we were in before birth;
Deep Sleep, Dream, Amnesia of drugs.
Consider what you expect your own death will be like:

1) Will your death be permanent, or temporary?
The beginning of life everlasting? Yes_____ No_____
A temporary condition before rebirth? Yes_____ No_____
A permanent state of rest, nothingness? Yes_____ No_____

2) In death will you be aware or even conscious? Yes_____ No_____
3) Will you- or can you- feel pain after death? Yes_____ No_____
4) Will you be rewarded or punished for your life? Yes_____ No_____
5) Do you want religious guidance to die? Yes_____ No_____
If so, who will be with you?_________________________________________
6) Will friends or family to be with you when you are dying? Yes_____ No_____
If so, who will contact them?
Name: ___________________________________Phone__________________email__________________
Name: ___________________________________Phone___________________email_________________ Name: ___________________________________Phone___________________ email_________________
Name: ____________________________________Phone___________________email_________________
Other information:_________________________________________________________________________
7) Do you have an Advanced Directive? Browse for your state’s current documents.
8) Consider ‘Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment’ (POLST) so you can better say what to do when or if you can no longer make your own decisions.
See, for example,
9)You may want to take this completed form to your physician, friend, pastor or family.
(The physician can most effectively provide comfort care personally.)

Speak up if your ideas change. That can happen!
If you want your doctor to be with you when you die, ask that a copy be
placed–or scanned– into your record. Keep the original.

Date: ___________Signed:________________________________________________________


There is much written on the subject of death and dying. However it is often so detailed, tedious or theoretical as to be impractical. That is why you, yourself, are the best person to determine your ideas on death and dying. Think about practicing detachment from the things of your life. The short list below is inspired by Chapter 3 of The Tibetan Book of the Dead by Robert Thurman 1944 Bantam

1) Begin giving things away. Especially things you care about. Give thoughtfully, carefully, whether the thing is small, or large.
2) Review your relationships, concentrating on what may make your relations and friends really happy, and how liberating is reconciliation.
3) Let go of your own body concerns; take care of it but be relaxed about it.
4) Meditate; when you do, or when you write, you can better find your inner self.


The Melba Notebooks Published

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The Melba Notebooks, (partially based on material in this blog,) has been published. Anyone who has been close to elderly parents or friends who are in their last years will find these scenes moving; anyone who is living that life experience now will find the Notebooks to be familiar territory, or perhaps, instructive.

Book Description
Publication Date: February 5, 2014

Bob and Melba marry at the dawn of the Great Depression. A mining engineer, Bob finds work outside the US and is later blacklisted by mining companies after supporting a gold miners’ strike in the Philippines. For several years thereafter he can only find work as an underground miner himself. Melba, Bob and their children make a life, often from scratch, in mining towns around the world, including Quebec, Ontario, the Philippines, Mexico, and the Western USA.

They grow old and frail. Having lived on their own terms, they want to die on their own terms too—at home, away from institutional protocols that tend to sanitize, trivialize, and prolong old age and death. They do so with the help of their children and caregivers. Their story was culled from five hand written spiral bound notebooks that make up a five-year conversation among caregivers about Elder care and terminal care told with clarity, sympathy, humor, and power. The print edition is available at Amazon, and CreateSpace. The is at Kindle Direct Publishing.