When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something 
precious to the earth.

When its over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom taking the world into my arms.

When its over, I dont want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I dont want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I dont want to end up simply having visited this world.

-- Mary Oliver

The Facts

Over half of us are touched each year by the death of a close family member or friend.
10% of us will die suddenly.
90% of us will face health care decisions about end-of-life care.
50% of our medical costs are incurred in the last year of life.

The Questions

What is your worst-case scenario for how you will die?
What is your best-case scenario for how you will die?
Even though there are no guarantees in life or death, what can you do now to maximize the odds of having a good death?

-- Joan Halifax Roshi

Susan Sontag (1933-2004)