My own mother died rather suddenly when I was 12 and she was only 48; she had an aortic aneurysm. Looking back after we knew what had killed her, we saw there were symptoms but back in the 1980s, no one knew anything about aneurysms. We also lived in a rural area. My late mother was going through menopause and trying to stop smoking at the same time. However, all that said, a few weeks before she died, she seemed to become more gentle, kind, and caring, and this is from someone who was already that way. It was enough of a marked difference that I noted it even as a pre-teen.

When my late husband received his final diagnosis (pancreatic cancer), he also began to be even more kind and caring, and he was one of the most kind and caring people I know. He said he had thought of death every day from the time he was 10 years old, and he had had many health stumbles before the final deadly cancer. He was very prepared to go, and he died very calmly and peacefully.

Now I look at my 87-year-old father, a man who is kind and caring, but not all that easy to deal with or be around. He's a very good person overall, but he has been prickly in the past, highly sensitive, easily offended, up on his high horse, sometimes judgmental. Now for the past couple of years, no more of that at all. My sister and I have both remarked that he's ready, not to leave us, but that his body is just tired, and his spirit seems to shine more brightly now that the physical body is fading.

I witnessed my husband's death, and I can say now I'm not scared of death. I don't want to be in pain, but the actual transformation, mysterious as it is, doesn't frighten me at all.