We all know we can live well. There are life hacking books, articles, gurus… It’s never ending.
But what about dying well?
There is a new movement happening in this space, and we are daring to call it “death hacking”. People all over the world are starting to see the opportunities in end of life and death care.
It seems the status quo of the process of dying is no longer serving humanity. Many articles point out that the way people die right now is soulless, scientific, cold, isolating, and downright depressing.
But what if dying could be supportive, warm, embracing, and beautiful?
We searched the web for some of the best death hacks according to scientists, professionals and doctors.
These are some of the most inspiring tips we found to die a better death:
#1: Let go of the fear of the inevitable
“When we fear death, we stop living. We like to feel invincible or immortal for that matter. But not thinking about death won’t make your life last forever. It takes guts to confront this vulnerable truth: the only certain thing is how uncertain life is.
We avoid thinking about death, yet we fear it in silence. Keeping the “what if I die tomorrow?” question present will free you from that worry that exists at a subconscious level.”
-Gustavo Razzetti via Liberationist
#2: Make a plan… a REAL plan
“It all starts with a plan. Most people say “I’d like to die at home”. 80% of Americans die in a hospital or a nursing home. Saying we want to die at home is not a plan. Many people say: “If I get like that, just shoot me.” That’s not a plan either. That’s illegal. A plan involves answering straightforward questions about the end of life you want. Where do you want to be when you’re no longer independent? What do you want in terms of medical intervention? Who will make sure your plan is followed?”
-Judy Macdonald Johnston via The Good Life
#3: Treat the death process just as gently and wondrously as the birth process
“The living see less of death than we used to, and we have lost our instinctive way of coping with it. Most modern deaths are, at best, efficient but also soulless,’ says Felicity. “I learned that it was possible for death to be gentle and humane, and we can all help by being there and being calm, loving and kind.”
“The more you work with the dying, the more you realize how death and birth share startling similarities,” she says. “Death isn’t just the moment when you take your last breath. It’s usually a slow, unravelling process. Good pain relief is important, but so is loving care. Just as there are stages in birth labor, so there are stages to dying. Anyone who has witnessed a good death will tell you that it is not frightening – and, in its own way, it is as wondrous as a baby’s birth.”
-Felicity Warner via The Guardian
#4: Create a supportive space for you to live out the end of your life
“If we want better buildings for dying, then we have to talk about it, but because we find the subject of death uncomfortable, we don’t talk about it, and we don’t question how we as a society approach death. One of the things that surprised me most in my research, though, is how changeable attitudes actually are. This is the first crematorium in the U.K., which was built in Woking in the 1870s. And when this was first built, there were protests in the local village. Cremation wasn’t socially acceptable, and 99.8 percent of people got buried. And yet, only a hundred years later, three quarters of us get cremated. People are actually really open to changing things if they’re given the chance to talk about them.”
-Alison Killing via Ted2014
#5: Seek support to recognize and heal what’s unresolved
“We must also recognize psycho-social pain, the residue of life’s unresolved conflicts with other people. There are almost always interpersonal issues within families, and sometimes between close friends, when one is dying—people who’ve become estranged, “I love you”’s that were never expressed, and more. Ira Byock, a palliative care doctor, wrote in his book, The Four Things That Matter Most, that there are four basic messages a person needs to communicate at the end of life:
I love you.
I forgive you.
Please forgive me.
These, I think, are a good start. A good death creates a space for people to say those words.”
-Charles Garfield via Greater Good
#6: Empower others to engage in the good death movement
“It is really important to democratise specialist knowledge. We need to engage carers, voluntary groups, nursing homes and patients themselves so they can be empowered to provide good-quality end-of-life care. Most of those helping are over 60 themselves. They are a fantastic resource we are not using properly.”
-Jeremy Laurance via Mosaic
In what ways do you feel we can start making death a better process? Do you have any death hacks to contribute? Tell us in the comments below!