Susan Ducharme Hoben

When a perfectly wonderful life took an unfathomable detour, Susan Ducharme Hoben rose up in Phoenix-like fashion to write Dying Well…Our Journey of Love and Loss. She calls it a love story and ‘how to’ primer for our generation. It’s hard not to be influenced by her infectious joie de vivre. 

Word renowned gerontologist Dr. Mario Garrett

Exit Interview conducted by Devorah Medwin

DM: What is your current state of mind?

“May I see with tolerance, may I speak with compassion, may I live with gratitude.” – it’s my yoga mantra.

DM: What’s your idea of perfect happiness?

At a high level, it comes down to appreciating life, where you’ve been and where you are now. Being surrounded by the love of family and friends allows me to dance with whatever life serves up. One finds happiness in being grateful, each and every day.

DM: Why did you write a book about dying?

Within a 6-month period, two events profoundly impacted my relationship with mortality. My cancer came first. But in the aftermath of my husband’s death, I was compelled to share our story. We were very deliberate about our actions after the diagnosis. Those decisions allowed him to have a good death. Everyone should be able to die well— but that is not the norm. I was encouraged to write a book that would benefit others. My hope is that readers will find value.

DM: What’s on your bedside table?

Anatomy of a Miracle, by Jonathan Miles. It’s unlike any book I’ve read – at times it reads like non-fiction, then fiction, and then narrative non-fiction. The main character has been a paraplegic for a number of years. When he stands up out of his wheelchair, it sets off a debate among doctors, journalists, and a Vatican investigator. It gives the reader a lot to think about in terms of love, family, fame, religion.

DM: What is your exit plan? How would you like to die?

Being with my husband as he was dying was such an intimate experience, and so important for everyone’s closure. That’s the way I want to go, mentally alert. I’ve already told my children if I don’t know who I am and I don’t know who they are, then that is not a life worth living. I have been very specific and clear about it. Until that day comes, my plan is to celebrate every day and savor memories.

DM: What book would you like to be buried with?

Water has always drawn me in, so after I’m cremated, I want my ashes to be scattered in the ocean. I won’t be taking any luggage.

DM: What is one practical step you would like readers to take away ?

Celebrate life everyday, live fully and joyously regardless of circumstance. And make a plan, right now while you’re alert and healthy. Go observe how others die, and then talk about it with your family, with your physicians. Create a vision for your end-of-life. Update your vision, rinse and repeat.

DM: If heaven exists, what would you like to hear when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

I don’t believe in God, but If it turns out there is a heaven, I think I’d be welcomed in. That said, I prefer my husband’s version of Einstein’s Theory {of death} which goes something like this: If matter can neither be created or destroyed, only changed, then it makes sense our soul or energy will continue to exist in some form.

you can support this series by purchasing ‘dying well, a journey of love and loss’ using this link

to learn more about susan, click here

Exit Interviews are edited for clarity

exit interviewBelinda Briggs