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Death is not all that bad

Death is not a pleasant subject, but we all have given the subject some thought and will likely drift again into those thoughts if we don’t die early, in an unexpected fashion. The subject then would have been handled for us.

The definition of “Pollyanna” is “finding a bit of gladness in difficult situations.” There have been several books in that vein entitled “Glad Books.”

My family, wife, two sons and a daughter call me a “Pollyanna.” I belabor almost all of life’s issues for a bright side or at least a side that isn’t as ominous.


I think I prefer thinking about the more serious interpretations.

Why do I say that it isn’t all bad? I’ve mentioned one already, an accidental death will relieve us having to dwell on this until a very old age. I don’t fit the accidental and early death category now as a 90-year-old. Too many of my relatives and good friends have already made the journey.

In this older age category, I am already aware of some factors that make death less stark and threatening:

My body is no longer able to do so many things that once were easy and pleasurable. I’m wearing glasses that will need upgrading soon again. I’m using hearing aids that have required expensive attachments and replacements, but who still are, as the old saying goes, not what they used be. I’m being tested yearly for cataract surgery, which has already been necessary for aging friends and relatives.

My physical balance is weakening and threatening. I have no more carefree body movements without giving regard to falling. When falling, getting back up is a most difficult and stressful maneuver.

My mental capacities have deficiencies for which I haven’t discovered miraculous remedies. It is embarrassing and deeply concerning and seems to be on a continuous downward path.

It occurred to me that a friend, Al Butterworth, who is a funeral director, would have more factual information from his experience with death. He offered the following to this subject:

“Over 40 years ago, I began my career in funeral service. As a licensed funeral director in both Wisconsin and Minnesota, I have been a part of over 6,000 funerals. Our funeral home has always served all faiths, and I have been present at funerals of various faiths. Everyone’s reaction to death is different. In my opinion, many individuals’ reaction to the death of a loved one varies depending on the belief of the deceased and the belief of the individual.”

So is there any glad answer in my case?


The University of Wisconsin Medical School will obtain my remains, this old fellow’s last chance to volunteer for younger people’s education and my life’s main profession.

If I should contract a painful condition that drugs wouldn’t ease near my end and wish to have help, it is now available. Legal suicide is now available in five states: Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. I have also been a caring friend member of Compassion & Choices, an organization in Denver, that provides information and help to those considering assisted suicide.

I’d like the memory of me

To be a happy one

I’d like to leave an afterglow

Of smiles when life is done

I’d like to leave an echo

Whispering softly down the ways

Of happy times and laughing

Times bright and sunny days

I’d like the tears of those that grieve

To dry before the sun

Of happy memories that I leave

When life is done.

Bernie Hughes, Ed.D, is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached at