Death, etc.

O, our lives' sweetness
That we the pain of death would hourly die
Rather than die at once!

King Lear, V.3

It makes sense to think about death and dying before it happens, since you probably won't be able to think about it clearly when it does. Worse, you might be incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes. It's best to tell people how you want to be treated while you can. Hence this page.

By the way, my health is just fine as I write this, and I don't foresee any changes to this happy condition. This page is just something I've been meaning to do for years.


I don't agree with people who think that all human life must be prolonged, no matter the cost in terms of suffering. Edgar's sentiment in "King Lear" is not one I take as my own. If we as humans feel that we can decide when to kill sick pets and livestock, why do we deny that a human is capable of making the same judgment about his or her own life? Condemning a suffering person with a terminal disease to a painful, unwanted, slow death in order to satisfy your personal morality is barbaric. Everyone should have the right to decide what she or he wants to do with his or her life. The decision to die with some dignity is part of that right.

I assert that right.

Advanced Directive

This section details my wishes for treatment in the event that I am unable to communicate my wishes at the time. This document does not expire. The format is taken directly from the Oregon Advance Directive form.

At this time, I am not appointing a health care representative.

Part C

Here are my desires for health care if my doctor and another knowledgeable doctor confirm that I am in a medical condition described below.

  1. CLOSE TO DEATH. If I am close to death and life support would only postpone the moment of my death: (A) I DO NOT WANT tube feeding; (B) I want NO life support.

  2. PERMANENTLY UNCONSCIOUS. If I am unconscious and it is very unlikely that I will ever become conscious again: (A) I DO NOT WANT tube feeding; (B) I want NO life support.

  3. ADVANCED PROGRESSIVE ILLNESS. If I have a progressive illness that will be fatal and is in an advanced stage, and I am consistently and permanently unable to communicate by any means, swallow food and water safely, care for myself and recognize my family and other people, and it is very unlikely that my condition will substantially improve: (A) I DO NOT WANT tube feeding; (B) I want NO life support.

  4. EXTRAORDINARY SUFFERING. If life support would not help my medical condition and would make me suffer permanent and severe pain: (A) I DO NOT WANT tube feeding; (B) I want NO life support.

  5. GENERAL INSTRUCTION. I do not want my life to be prolonged by life support. I also do not want tube feeding as life support. I want my doctors to allow me to die naturally if my doctor and another knowledgeable doctor confirm I am in any of the medical conditions listed in Items 1 to 4 above.

  6. ADDITIONAL CONDITIONS OR INSTRUCTIONS. A flat EEG (i.e., no cerebral activity) shall be treated as condition 2 above, permanent unconsciousness.

  7. OTHER DOCUMENTS. I DO NOT have a health care power of attorney.

Mark L. Irons, 16 July 1999.

Disposition of the Corpse

Here are my preferences, in order:

  1. Organ donation.
  2. Donate the body to science.
  3. Bury the body in the ground, unembalmed and not in a coffin. Let it decompose as quickly as possible.
  4. Composting would be a nice way to return to the earth.
  5. Taxidermy is fine, if a bit unusual. (But what a conversation piece!)

If none of these options is feasible, cremate. Or drop the remains in an acid bath: bones free for all. Hand them out at a wake: unique party favors!


  • No embalming.
  • No coffin. If a coffin is required by law, use the cheapest, biodegradable cardboard shipping coffin.

As for memorial services, gatherings, wakes, or stones, do what you need. I'd prefer a party, but there's no need to please me.

Vex not his ghost; O, let him pass. He hates him
That would upon the rack of this tough world
Stretch him out longer.

King Lear, V.3

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Last updated 6 August 2003
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