How do you want to die?

The End of Life
CAN be comfortable and enlivening

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC

Why do we prefer to wait with hope, faith and fear?

Many of us rely on our belief in a heavenly father to partner us through our last days on earth.

Some of us put our faith in medical science.

And most of us prefer not to think about
the end of life at all.

As a result, when death comes we are unprepared to handle it in human terms – in our own lives or in the lives of those we love.  As a sad consequence, grief is prolonged and much more difficult to handle for everyone involved.

Thoughts about our own death

I must admit that, even as I age, I rarely think about the plot of my last chapter on earth — but I have recently listened to a couple of podcast interviews that have expanded my thoughts about end of life issues in a manner that has surprised me.

Both of them were inspiring in completely different ways, and both of them are supported by books that add depth to the conversation.

Grave Expectations: Planning the End Like There’s No Tomorrow
by Sue Bailey and Carmen Flowers

A Life Worth Living: A Doctor’s Reflections on Illness in a High-Tech Era
by Dr. Robert Martensen

I think these are both important books on a topic rarely discussed, so I wanted to let you know about them — as well as taking some time to turn you on to a couple of excellent interviews with the authors.

Be sure to check out the sidebar for how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

NOT just Brain Science

Long-time readers have probably run across my encouragement to listen to Dr. Ginger Campbell‘s excellent Brain Science Podcast more than once. 

You may not be aware of her other podcast, Books and Ideas.  It is equally interesting in a different manner, and broader in scope. I am currently working my way through the entire archive. 

Two older interviews on a related topic became the source for today’s post.

The earlier interview, episode 26: Grave Expectations: Planning the End Like There’s No Tomorrow is an unusually entertaining and light-hearted look at the topic of death, beginning with a discussion of how the book came about.  The book itself has been written in workbook format, making the entire topic easier to talk about and explore.

Both author’s explain the benefits they have experienced as a result of thinking about the end before it comes, both for their own young lives and those of their older relatives and loved ones. They also discuss a few brief examples of what happens to those left behind when “What do you want to happen?” conversations are NOT held before death.

The tone of the interview is upbeat and positive.  Believe it or not, it will make most of you feel great as you listen.

Health Care Considerations for the end of Life

A Doctor’s take on palliative care

A slightly more recent interview, Episode #29: A Life Worth Living: A Doctor’s Reflections on Illness in a High-Tech Era looks at the end of life through a slightly different lens.

From Ginger’s Interview Show Notes:

“This month we concentrate on the issues facing patients with life threatening illnesses, including making decisions about end of life care. Dr. Martensen and I agree that the American emphasis on high tech care tends to ignore the needs of people in these situations.

We discuss the importance of better communication between physicians and patients as well as the need for fundamental changes in our system.”

Worth your Time

If you are facing end of life issues with someone you love, this interview will give you some ways to talk about things to the care-provider team that will improve the quality of their care. 

Equally important, it will help you understand ways to increase the emotional comfort of everyone involved – through the questions you will learn you need to ask and the information you share with loved ones.  It had that effect on me, in any case.

I hope you’ll take the time to investigate these resources – LONG before you need them, but certainly if someone close to you is close to the end of life.

There are cultures in countries outside America that have rituals that change the tenor of their grieving in positive ways.  I would love to explore some of those with you – along with an exploration of the ideas put forth in these two books – but only if there is an indication of interest.

What do YOU think?

I’m especially eager to know your responses to this particular issue and this particular post.  Leave ’em in the comments section below.

What kind of death do YOU want?

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

9 Responses to How do you want to die?

  1. ramon says:

    losing the game of pretending to fit in- it’s ok. i wasted 25 years trying to learn how to negotiate the post-coma tbi man to fit the man i had remembered but no longer felt. a big waste of time.
    there is some relief of getting old. you begin not to care much and when you have to live a false self if you are to care to fit in- best to lose that battle. mgh i like your webpage.


    • Not “wasted” time – tho’ I do know that I feel the same way when I work diligently at something that seems to blow up in my face or lie there barely moving (and that it’s annoying to hear positivity comments from anyone who hasn’t walked a mile in my shoes).

      The truth is that there ARE some skills transfer, etc. – but it’s demoralizing to have to work twice as hard for half as much. I’ve never known “different” (i.e., pre/post TBI) – so I can’t say whether it is harder to have a “before” for comparison or not, but I want to reach out to you to say YOU ARE NOT ALONE! In the 25 years I’ve been in the EFD biz, I’ve met thousands with our challenges, and it helps me to help them, as well as to have an explanation for why life seems harder for some.

      I’m not sure I’ll ever be at peace with the “just do it” folks — those who are blissfully unaware of just how MUCH harder their own struggles could be, or how much more effort many must expend to get to the baseline the neurotypicals take for granted.

      If you haven’t read Gathering the Tribe: TBI-2 – check it out.



  2. ramon says:

    waking from a coma may have professionals feeling relieved and happy, but to the one who no longer feels his past. and scrambles to create a self that is rejected by his community, best to not celebrate much this awakening? grief only grief. but treasures in trauma- compassion.
    not feeling in humanity but feeling so compassionate for the humans.


    • I don’t have coma recovery in my background, but I can relate to the depression when everyone else mirrors back giddy relief that things were not worse, overlooking the long road back we can clearly see as they try to jolly us into looking on their bright side.

      What? You don’t think I deserve to have authentic feelings about my circumstance? Can’t you be with me through my grief, too?

      It’s difficult for well-meaning others to understand that WE are the ones who need to voice those “positivity” thoughts – and we will, eventually – but as long as they are trying to push it on us, we can only respond with the feeling that they don’t really get it. Not. helpful. Not. healing.

      It takes the time it takes – and the only way through it is straight through it (and I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know!)


  3. ramon says:

    before my coma time, i felt like this was my home. after the coma, i was so estranged from self and saw things so very differently from those around me. people are just people. but such a fast paced and competitive society wears out the tbi victim. i want to die in much solitude, but near a people who know and respect kindness. and see it as a strength not a weakness of worldliness.


  4. ramon says:

    my dream is to die in the andes among people who have no answers and who do not know me or want to talk much with me. i want to witness what love is as i die.


  5. janetkwest says:

    I just subscribed to Brain Science podcast. I can’t believe I hadn’t before. Personally, I don’t have time to die. I have so many things I want to do. I know it will happen anyway but I want a chance to live as fully as I can.


    • That’s the whole point of podcast #1 – living as fully as one can – sort of a global take on the “begin with the end in mind” point of view touted by the planning gurus.

      If you don’t have time to die, you CERTAINLY don’t have time for a brush with the process unprepared! (car accident, illness, etc)

      Podcast #2 gives you time to PLAN what you want done medically – so that you know what to set up with your family, your doctors – and in writing – BEFORE you need it.

      It’s eye-opening to hear what the assumptions will be without guidelines. (THIS from a doctor!)

      We all know we don’t live forever, so keeping our power until the very end allows us to live fully (and comfortably) until the very end.

      You can get to B&I from the BSP website OR from the links above.

      Just download and listen, Janet. At least to #1.


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