Good Death

What is a “Good Death”?

The Institute of Medicine defines a Good Death as “one that is free from avoidable distress and suffering for patients, families, and caregivers in general accordance with the patients’ and families’ wishes; and reasonably consistent with clinical, cultural, and ethical standards.”

Multiple experts have suggested that physical, psychological, social, spiritual, and existential experiences, in addition to life closure and death preparation, all contribute to the concept of a “Good Death.”

A Good Death can be defined as a combination of concepts and perspectives. Everyone involved in a person’s end-of-life care will have a different experience. In the patient’s perspective, a “Good Death” can consist of the desire not to burden family and friends, the desire to die with dignity and the desire to have pain and symptom management. For family members, perspectives can include preparing the individual for caregiving as well as providing guidance on how to manage their lives. For the healthcare provider, it may mean effectively managing the dynamics within the family unit while administering care.

In situations where there are multiple family members and caregivers, family dynamics have the potential to facilitate or hinder the delivery of end-of-life care. If there are no plans for end-of-life care, family members and caregivers may experience strain or unnecessary hardship due to tension and emotional factors. Having a well-planned end-of-life care plan can protect your loved ones from needless suffering throughout the grieving process. A “Good Death Experience” is our final gift to our loved ones.

What Is the “Good Death Experiment”?

The Good Death Experiment (GDE) aims to educate people about the importance of being proactive and begin preparing for their end-of-life as a proactive action, not as a reaction to an event. In reality, we cannot guarantee a Good Death Experience, but we encourage people to take one step forward: be prepared, create a plan, discuss that plan, and be ready to execute that plan so your wishes may be carried out. As a result, you and your loved ones will be able to experience what is the closest thing to a good death.

Many of us are familiar with the loss of a loved one and, unfortunately, the grieving process may have been interrupted and negatively affected due to a lack of preparedness, detailed planning, caregiver support, and the absence of financial resources. If this situation is all too familiar to you, you may wish to prepare a “Good Death Experience” or GDE plan. Join the “Good Death Experiment.”

We conduct experiments to resolve uncertainty. Take the 5-minute GDE survey to determine the level of your preparation for a “Good Death Experience.”

What is the "Good Death Experience" ?

The Good Death Experience (GDE) refers to the practice of empathizing with, understanding, and considering the feelings and thoughts of all those involved at the end-of-life. Everyone involved in the end-of-life process should become more aware of the death experience all in order to facilitate a Good Death Experience. 

The key components of a “Good Death Experience” are:

(G)ET A PLAN: Develop a GDE Plan and a set of goals to help ensure that your end-of-life wishes are realized, include all those involved in your family and support team to ensure the needs of everyone are met.

(D)ISCUSS PLAN: Communicate with your family and friends about your GDE Plan. Your plan is essential to ensuring that you and your family make it smoothly through the many phases of end-of-life care.

(E)XECUTE PLAN:  Good execution of a plan includes ensuring that everyone is prepared. Anyone who has a role in your GDE Plan should know what to do on your behalf in the event of an emergency, or a call to action.

Important: Stay in touch with the members of your GDE Plan. Ensure that all contact information is up to date for your End-of-Life Agent (EOLA), Healthcare Providers, Support Care Team, Beneficiaries and Loved Ones.