Colin Proudman (Dying Well, Letters, Feb. 2015, p. 4) correctly points out that the root meaning of the word “euthanasia” comes from the Greek, meaning “dying well” (sometimes translated “good death”). And “who would not wish” that?
He also correctly points out that euthanasia has commonly come to mean terminating life or assisted suicide. Here are some other definitions:
Hospice: a guesthouse for travellers, from French and Latin roots hospitium, hospes (a stranger treated as a guest).
Palliative: to alleviate symptoms of a disease without curing.
I volunteer on a hospice unit alongside nursing staff and other specially trained volunteers. A highlight of the week is the weekly tea party. Tablecloths and bone china cups are brought out, cookies are donated, and tea and coffee made ready for our guests: family, friends and patients well enough to participate.
Strangers who have become friends and “family” return to remember a loved one who died several years ago, sharing tears and laughter, hugs and a deep joy that a loved one “died well.”