Where: Do you want to be at home, in a loved one’s home, or in a hospice setting? You can have a hospice care provider come into a home if you wish. However, if being at home would be too hard on your family, or if you live alone, hospice provides a home-like setting that may be better for you.
How: Do you want to be kept completely comfortable, even if it means being sedated/somewhat “out of it”? Or do you prefer that medications be dosed so that you have pain and symptom control, but you’re also more alert and present with family and friends? Your answers to these questions can change over time.
Also, think about what you want your day-to-day life to be like. Do you want lots of family and friends around, or do you prefer your environment to be quieter and more serene? Would you rather be alone or mostly alone? Kelly Grosklags, LICSW, BCD, notes that her own patients typically choose to die similarly to how they lived. People who love parties and lots of company often want the same as they die. People tend to surround themselves with the things they love: pets, music, art, movies, treasured photos. Whatever gives meaning to your life can also bring meaning and comfort as you die.
“I worked with a woman who always wanted her family to have a cocktail, and she called it the happy hour of dying,” Grosklags says. “And it was just this beautiful ritual that the family did for 2 weeks straight in her honor. Well, she was a woman that always hosted the parties, always encouraged people to have a good time, and she told me to her that was a good death. That if the people in her life were happy, that of course made her happy.
“When I see people dying, I see them wanting and craving things and hoping for things in their death that they also had in their life. They may be somebody who absolutely loved animals and were very, very close to their pets. A good death to them would be that their animal would be with them or at least be available to them in the end. If they are somebody that really enjoyed a lot of family around, liked to party, liked it loud, they are likely going to be that person who wants a lot of people around, doesn’t care if there’s a lot of people in the room, always wants somebody in the house, wants people to kind of keep going on, have conversation, have dinners.”