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How to have a 'good death'

A sense of peace, to be comfortable as possible at the moment of dying, surrounded by those closest to us or a loved one, is a picture of a good death.

There are only two things that are certain in life: taxes and death. While we are somehow prepared to pay taxes—that is studying, working, earning and paying—we do not get to prepare for death as well as we ought.

After all, there is such a thing as a "good death."

A sense of peace, to be comfortable as possible at the moment of dying, surrounded by those closest to us or a loved one, is a picture of a good death.

"It's about tidying up loose ends in their lives. For other people it's about times with family, friends, and those who are significant to them. It's about spending quality time together and creating memories," says Fr. Peter Harries, a hospital chaplain, in a new resource website.

Harries says that for those who have faith, a good death may involve reconcilation with God and family members. But anyone should learn to recognize medical, emotional and spiritual needs.

"The journey towards death is as much about getting to know yourself as any part of life.... Being able to identify these needs is another central part of what it means to die well," it says on the website.

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This and other practical advise are available in a comprehensive guide to a good death is a available online on The Art of Dying Well, a project of the Catholic Church of England and Wales.

The site features real-life stories and videos about facing death personally, losing a loved one and caring for the dying. Despite being a project of Catholics, the resources are helpful to anyone of any or no faith since the ethos of dying applies to all.

The team behind the Art of Dying Well project have received lots of positive feedback since the launch of the website at the end of 2016. One visitor to the site said: "An excellent uplifting website which, hopefully, may help many to face the inevitable encounter with Sister Death."

Allan Doyle, a funeral director, also commented: "Thank you for this wonderful resource. We will certainly direct people to it because caring for those who are ill is, thankfully, an increasing part of what we do."

Professionals in palliative care, ethics, chaplaincy and history have collaborated on the content which offers help and solace to the dying, the bereaved, carers (professional and otherwise) and those seeking spiritual support.

"All of us will fall, all of us will need help, and all of us can use the experience we gain in helping people on the climb creatively for the good of others," the site says.

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