We will all have the opportunity to be with-women, with-men, and with-people. Dying people will be accompanied by with-women, with-men, and with-people whenever and for as long as they like. With-people will probably need to have their own with-people with them to support them while they support whoever they are with until they’re not with them any longer.
Whether we are incurably ill or old, we will usually die at home or in a place we liked very much, surrounded by the people we have chosen to surround us.
There will be no need for special units or any beeping. The environment created by the fact of company will work in concert with rather than against the work of dying.
Those of us old enough to remember will try not to wince when we recall the old approach to dying—how quick we were to hospitalise, how aggressively we sought to ‘manage’ the process, and how poorly we communicated with people who were dying and the people they loved and who loved them.
Those of us old enough to remember will try not to wince when we recall the old approach to death—how hard we resisted it, how much money we spent trying to avoid it altogether, how we turned endlessly to metaphors of war as if death were a battle and biomedicine its warrior.
Where once there was a culture of fear and distrust, there will be a culture of reconciliation, acceptance, and mutual support. This will be symbolically and practically recognised in the smelting and refashioning of the excess instruments into the architectural materials need to build the mourning places.
Some of us will experience a scene of farewells, will distribute our things amongst our lovers and friends and those in need, will receive old rituals like Extreme Unction or devise new rituals altogether.
If we slide out of this world unexpectedly in our sleep or in a case of misfortune, we will be returned to the earth bound in cloth, as a fine dust, or as a tree in appreciation of continuation—our link to every thing and one.