Slow death or quick one?

Hi SD,

Don’t know if this has been posted before.

A very good friend of mine recently lost his 31-year old son. They found him on the bathroom floor. He was gone, just like that.

Question is: Would you prefer a slow death or a quick, sudden one?

If you die suddenly and quickly, it’s less pain, over a shorter period of time…not only for you, but for your family/friends as well. They don’t have to watch your slow decline, as you proceed to lose control of yourself. They don’t have to see your tragic transformation into someone who becomes completely unrecognizable. Another advantage is that you really don’t have time to ruminate over death, or to fear it, as it just happens instantly, without warning.

However, if you choose to die from a sickness or injury over a period of weeks or months, you get the major advantage of being able to take care of your affairs, and plan so that your family has it easier when you’re gone. You also have the opportunity to say goodbye to those you love, and leave no sentiment, good or bad, unexpressed. And you can make more happy memories. Finally, you may have the chance to make peace with your coming death. But then you have to wait until it happens, and deal with the pain until it does.

Do you really want to “hang on” so long that you just become a burden? Before you say “well, MY family would never think of me as a burden”, consider all the hospital visits, logistical arrangements, costs of care involved with dealing with someone with a terminal illness. If you had a terminal illness, you would be a burden. One they can’t get rid of, one that is keeping them from enjoying their own lives. By this logic, you’re stealing life from them, that they can’t get back. Life that is spent caring for your deteriorating self.




It is such a hypothetical question. Death strikes when She wishes. Does not matter what we think.

Barring suicide, of course.

I would prefer to go quickly. But I think it is harder on the family. A friend lost her 41 year old son to a sudden heart attack and has not gotten over it in 7 years. She just lost her husband to a long illness and, while sad, has accepted it in a way she hasn’t the loss of her son.

Given the OP, quick. My wife has some idea what to do with my stuff and a lot of my affairs (as people use the expression) are already taken care of. Going outside the OP, I would really prefer say a weeks notice. I do have a few good-byes I would like to say myself.

I keep my affairs in order as if I will die at anytime. If I have something I feel the need to tell someone I tell it. If I feel an object I own may have some kind of sentimental or other value I have it tagged with the story behind it. I would rather go quickly.

I agree, and disagree. It’s initially more shocking and unquestionably more intense when someone dies suddenly, but that’s mostly because it’s a shock, and because you were unprepared. But it’s over with at that point- there’s just grieving left to do, and remembering that person, likely hale and healthy (as far as you knew).

Having someone die by inches is far worse IMO. Not only does it draw out for an indeterminate amount of time, but so is the grief. It’s not like you can just work through it and get it resolved. Instead, you get to a sort of acceptance point that they’re going to die, and work through the frustration/anger/sadness. After that’s done (assuming they continue to live), you then start to get frustrated, because they’re declining, and that’s hard to watch, and you see the effects of this on your relatives and friends and the dying person themselves. Often, their actual death is something of a sad relief. And there’s still grieving to do- the person is actually gone at this point; you sort of pick up where you left off and finish. And possibly worst of all, your memories of this person will be forever clouded by the memories of this terminal stage, with all the grief and anguish, and their physical decline.

(says the guy who lost one grandfather to a heart attack out of the blue, and a grandmother, grandfather and aunt to long, lingering deaths from diabetes/strokes,
heart failure and cancer, respectively)

I want to go quickly and painlessly. Don’t want any long-and-drawn-out death, and I don’t want any pain.

I’ve read relatively a lot about this. The informed consensus is that quick unexpected death is easier on the deceased but harder on the family. There is an upper limit though, and a truly ghastly lingering years-long nightmare decline and demise is also very hard on the family.

The typical course of disease before 1900ish was folks continued more or less OK year in and year out, then something weird & scary started. Then they lived a week or a month or two. That was more or less ideal in that folks had the chance to make arrangements, say good-byes, etc. Everybody involved had a chance to get used to the idea before the death finalized things.
The sadness here in the 21st century is that in addition to making many excellent saves, modern medicine is also creating a bunch of the lingering nightmares.

I do not fear death as much as I fear the conscious realization my death is immediately impending. One’s body knows that it under attack, and an involuntary and very unpleasant struggle takes place, with the evolutionary utility of that obvious. Effective suicide methods are those that minimize that conscious process.

I want to die unexpectedly, faster than my mind can process what is happening to me. Like a bug when I step on it on the sidewalk. Or when already asleep.

Well, I don’t expect to have much say in this when the time comes but I’d like something in-between. I definitely want to realize that I’m going but I’d rather avoid a long ordeal. Let’s say a couple of weeks. Enough to say goodbye to the people I care for, enjoy a few more simple joys like sunsets, the sound of the rain on the windowpanes as well as the mystery of the night sky and ultimately try to take a look back on my whole life.

My mom has always said that she wanted to die while asleep. The very thought made me shudder as a kid. I’m sure my problems with insomnia are related to that :D.

If I were dying slowly (and aren’t we all, really?), I would put my affairs in order and then kill myself, quickly.

My dad died slowly, as did one of my cousins. If chance does not provide me with a quick death, I will provide one for myself. I will not endure what they did, nor force my loved ones to endure it with me.

Quick, thank you.

As I am in the process of watching my father die slowly of Alzheimer’s, I’m of the very strong opinion that a quick (or even relatively quick) death is infinitely preferable for both the recently-deceased and their family. A quick sudden death is hard to get over - but any death of a loved one is hard to get over and the knowledge that your loved one is dying by inches and there is nothing anyone can do about it is brutal.

This, please and thank you.

This. My stuff at work is pretty clearly documented and can be picked up by someone else with minimal headache. I’ve got abundant life insurance so nobody on the personal side will have to make any pressured decisions. Even the system I have in place for paying the bills is pretty self explanatory (I have a wretched memory so I don’t rely on it). I’m ready. Let’s do it quickly. Pain is OK if it’s fairly brief. Like from an injury, not Mr. Cancer. Fuck cancer. The only thing I can say for sure is I ain’t dying from cancer.

Thank you for your responses.

I am getting too old to keep thinking of myself as invincible. All it takes is bad luck, and you’re done.

So the best thing I can do right now is to get my affairs in order and hope for my good luck to continue.


Definitely quick and sudden.

Remember that big landslide in Washington a couple years ago that buried a town - and some people who just happened to be driving by on the highway? One of them was a young woman whose car was found by her father and brother, who were participating in the search effort because they had reason to believe she might have been there. Her father, devastated as he was by the loss of his daughter, said that her biggest fear was always that she would die from a lingering, painful illness, and she was spared that. In fact, he said that she probably never saw it coming; she was facing forwards, with her foot on the gas, and a calm expression on her face and the radio still tuned to her favorite station.

p.s. When I worked at the grocery store, many elderly customers told me, “You don’t want to get old. Take my word for it.” :frowning:

I’ll live forever.

I was going to make a joke about wanting a long drawn-out suicide and then realized the way I eat could be characterized that way! :smack:

Anyhoo, quick for me. And if I may be even more specific, a hilarious quick cartoon death like a safe, piano or big rubber ball of oil falling on me from a great height with no warning. I have my “What To Do If I Die” letter updated and waiting.