Would You Rather Die At Home Or In The Hospital?

Most people, if they had their choice, would want to be in their home with family and the dog or cat on the bed when they die. YET, most people die in a hospital or nursing facility without the dog or cat, and maybe even without family present.

In the hospital, if a person doesn’t have a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order they will not be allowed to die naturally. The body will be attached to machines to keep it breathing, and when their heart stops, the medical staff will try to restart it, generally to no avail. Without a DNR order, death will not come gently and only hospital staff will be present.

If there is a DNR order in place and you are in the hospital you will probably be moved to the end of the hall to quietly die. Hopefully there will be a family present, but probably you will be alone - and there certainly will not be a dog or cat on the bed.

In a nursing facility, if you do not have a DNR, you will be sent to the hospital when you begin having difficulty. If you do have a DNR, then let’s hope the staff has training in end of life care and/or has a relationship with a hospice to guide care. 

Now back to home with the dog and cat on the bed. We don’t have any role models on what it is like to die — and people don’t die like they do in the movies. Caring for someone at home as the end of life approaches can be scary, overwhelming, tiring, and frustrating. YET it can also be meaningful, beautiful, fulfilling, and life-altering. Dying at home can be the gift our family gives us BUT they need support, knowledge, and guidance — enter hospice, enter EOL doulas, enter EOL booklets and the EOL course.

The thing about dying at home is that there will be a time when we cannot take care of ourselves. As much as we want to be independent, we will not have the strength or the ability. 

We will need someone to take care of us, to provide nourishment while we are still eating, and to give us water while we are still drinking. Someone will need to bathe us, provide skin care, and position our body. These are all things which, as private as we may be, we will eventually be unable to do for ourselves.

Many of us cannot afford to pay for shift help in the home so care we need often falls to the family. The thing about families is most have their own life they are living. Adjustments must be made and ideally support from neighbors, church, and friends is received.

It is not easy taking care of someone as end of life approaches but with support, guidance, and tools, it can be done - and you can even have your dog or cat on the bed.

Something More…  about Would You Rather Die At Home Or In The Hospital?

If I could encourage you to do something by the end of the weekend, I would insist that you fill out your advance directives including a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care. Here is a link for you to find the forms for your state:  State directory 

I also like this workbook by The Death Project Manager: Workbook

Related products



I lost my mother and brother, both in hospice, seven months apart. After my brother passed, I moved to FL to care o
for my mother. My blind dog, Ivy, on the very first night slept by my mother’s bedside. In the middle of the night she would come in and peek at me, as it to say “I’m still your dog but i’m needed elsewhere.” When my mother moved from the hospital into a hospice facility, they allowed me to bring Ivy and she slept on the bed at the bottom of my mother’s feet. When I went in to take a shower on the third day, I took Ivy with me, afraid to leave her out in the room in case she escaped if someone came in. While in the shower, Ivy began to cry and scratch frantically at the bathroom door trying to get out. It was a that moment that I knew my mother passed. Throwing a towel around me, and going to my mother, I called for a nurse. And as Ivy spread at her feet for the last time, the nurse confirmed my mother’s passing. Animals are indeed linked to the supernatural. This gave me comfort in some ways. that although not by my mother’s side, that maybe Ivy was “with” her when she passed.
BK Books replied:
Hi Jenny, I’m sure Ivy was with your mom and comforted her in her passing. Animals are so much more than we give them credit for. Thank you for sharing. Blessings! Barbara

BK Books

Thank you, Cathi. Blessings! Barbara

Elinor Bayse

Talking about the animals being on the bed reminds me of the day my mother died. She was in the hospital, but when I came home, there was my cat lying in her bed. The cat never laid on her bed, but quite often sat on her lap. I have always wondered if the cat knew about her passing.
BK Books replied:
Hi Elinor, I think animals intuit more than we give them credit for. I have many stories of animals reaction to their special person’s death. Blessings! Barbara


When I cared for my husband at home I could do it because of Hospice and your books. Thank you for all you do. I was able to do it because my husband was gentle right up to the end of his life. Not all are able to do this.
BK Books replied:
Hi Anne, You gave your husband a beautiful gift of being cared for at home. Blessings! Barbara

Joy Schierer

Hi Barbara. You give such great wisdom and advice. It is too bad that we all don’t listen to it and absorb it.
Another resource for planning the end of life that I have been telling people about is a book called “I’m Dead, Now What” . It is great for filling in the blanks about your desires at end of life and practical things like, where do I keep my original will, where is my safe deposit box and the key for it, etc.
Keep up the weekly writings, I get a lot out of them!
Joy ( a volunteer at a local hospice house)
BK Books replied:
Hi joy, thanks for sharing the book. I have not seen it. Blessings to you in the work you are doing. Barbara

1 2

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published