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Opinion: ‘The most peaceful sleep’: Cancer is nudging me to picture dying in a new way

My paternal grandmother described the time she was technically dead for a few minutes as "the most peaceful sleep." After being diagnosed with metastatic kidney cancer, I like that idea…
Source: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

“It was the most peaceful sleep.” That’s how my paternal grandmother referred to the time she was technically dead for several minutes before doctors shocked her back to life. She lived another decade after that, but never once to my knowledge expressed a fear of dying.

As I trained to become a physician-scientist with a focus on neuropsychiatric disorders, I often thought of my grandmother’s description of temporary death. I learned that there were credible physiologic explanations for her to have experienced death as an immensely restful sleep.

It’s an idea that? What if I experience a bad death with tubes going into or coming out of every orifice, or my ribs being cracked as doctors try to restart my heart?

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