I have always believed that there is such a thing as a good death--generally, when you know it's coming, you have time to prepare and tie up loose ends with yourself and your loved ones, and minimize pain to be able to go in peace.
I'm thinking about this because our friend's wife passed yesterday after a courageous battle with cancer. We only met her recently, and her easy smile and warmth in the midst of such pain was incredible to behold. She also met our infant son at that time, and even feeling so weak was overjoyed to hold him and play with him as much as she could.
She woke up in the middle of the night and said, "Help me". That was the last thing she said. Her partner and her children were with her through the night until she passed in the morning.
It breaks my heart to think that she was frightened--that not only did she know her time had ended but that something in the passing frightened her. I hope that in the intervening hours between the beginning of the end and the time of death that she knew her family was there and she was comforted; that she knew she was going to a place of peace and was ready; that she was no longer in pain but felt the warmth of whatever light was awaiting her.
I hope that, in the end, death was kind to her. She deserved that much.