What is a Good Death

Rock Delicate Arch Formation Sunset Sandstone Moab

When asked to describe the perfect death, most people say, “I just want to close my eyes and not wake up.” The body agrees. And it actually has a plan for making that happen.


A few months before you die, you lose your appetite for food.  Things start to not taste good. You stop wanting to eat meat, then fruit and veggies. Pretty soon, the only foods that you enjoy are puddings, ice cream and yogurts, because they are easier to swallow and easier to digest. As you get closer to death, you don’t want to eat at all. At the same time you start wanting less and less liquids. This is a good thing!

No food and very little liquids help decrease pain. The body parts that digest food and turn it into energy are not working right. If you try to eat food that you don’t want to eat you could have really unpleasant consequences: bloating, diarrhea, vomiting and aspirating food that you can’t swallow into your lungs. If fluids are forced on you via an IV, you can become bloated and heavy. The weight of food and water will put pressure on your heart, nerves and increase pain, not reduce it. Your lungs can fill up and you will have distress breathing.


As you get closer to death, your body is in a starvation state. This state causes the body to release endorphins that are natural painkillers.  Being dehydrated causes calcium to build up in the bloodstream. What does this do? It makes you sleepy. Very sleepy.  And in the hours before you die, you close your eyes and don’t wake up.

Chaplain Hildebrand, after hearing a lecture about our body’s plan for a comfortable end, said, “I left that lecture ecstatic. I was so comforted to discover that the body really does know how to die itself. I was ready to do it right then. Okay….just a tiny bit ready.”

—Jahnna and Katie