I’m thrilled to death to have Seth Godin do this guest post on DyingWords. Seth is an internationally known author, speaker, businessman, and all-around mover & shaker. He originally posted this on his own blog at on June 13, 2013, and generously offered to share it here. Thanks Seth!

Seth3Let’s assert that you’re almost certainly not going to be the very first person to live forever. Also worth noting is that you’re probably going to die of natural causes. 

The expectations we have for medical care are derived directly from marketing and popular culture. Marcus Welby and a host of medical shows taught us about the heroic doctor, and more than that, about the power of technology and intervention to reliably deliver a cure.

It’s not a conspiracy — it’s just the result of many industries that all profit from the herculean effort and expense designed to extend human life, sometimes at great personal cost.

Seth4Hence the question: Do you want to choose whether or not you will be a profit center in the ever scaling medical-industrial complex? One percent of the population accounts for 30% of all health care expenditures, and half of those people are elderly.

Most of that care is designed to prolong life, regardless of the cost, the pain, or the impact on the family. A lot of doctors are uncomfortable with this, but they need you to speak up and make a choice (in advance) about what you’d like. Some people want the full treatment, intervention at all costs.

If that’s your choice, go for it. But be clear, in writing, that you’d like to spare no expense and invest in every procedure, even if it’s pointless and painful. Don’t be selfish and let someone else have to guess.

Seth5On the other hand, you have the right to speak up, and stand up, and clearly state if you’d prefer the alternative. Many people prefer a quiet dignity that spares them, and their family, pain and trauma. But you have to do it now, because later is too late.

The web makes it easy to generate and sign a simple generic form. Or even better, go find the forms by state or province. If those pages are down, try a search “health care proxy” and the name of your state or province. I suggest and consider the “Five Wishes” at .)

Seth6There are two critical components: assigning an individual to be your health care proxy, and then telling that proxy, in writing, what you’d like done (and not done) to you when the time comes.

If you’ve ever shared a post of mine, I hope you’ll share this one. If every person who reads this sits down with her family and talks this through (and then tells a few friends), we’ll make a magnificent dent in the cultural expectation of what happens last.

Seth8It’s free. It’s not difficult. It takes five minutes. Do it today, if you can, whatever your wishes are. Don’t make the people you love guess and then live with the memory of that guessing.

Some things are more likely to happen if you plan for them. In this case, the end comes whether you plan for it or not.

Planning merely makes it better.

Seth1SETH GODIN is the author of 17 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership, and most of all, changing everything. You might be familiar with his books LinchpinTribesThe Dip, and Purple Cow.

In addition to his writing and speaking, Seth is the founder of, a fast growing, easy to use website. His blog at (which you can find by typing “seth” into Google or click here) is one of the most popular in the world. Before his work as a writer and blogger, Seth was Vice President of Direct Marketing at Yahoo!, a job he got after selling them his pioneering 1990s online startup, Yoyodyne.

In 2013, Seth was inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame, one of three chosen for this honour.

Seth9Recently, Seth once again set the book publishing on its ear by launching a series of four books via Kickstarter. The campaign reached its goal after three hours and ended up becoming the most successful book project ever done this way. His latest, The Icarus Deception, argues that we’ve been brainwashed by industrial propaganda, and pushes us to stand out, not to fit in.

Thanks so much for generously sharing your wisdom, Seth!

2 thoughts on “HOW DO YOU WANT TO DIE?

  1. Gippy Adams Henry

    Garry, thanks for this great message for people to have advanced directives. As a director in a three-level of care retirement facility for quite a few years, I saw and heard it all. I watched families crumple not only with grief, but having to make life and death decisions about their loved ones that was devastating. Then as life goes, I had to bury my mother and brother in one year, seven months apart. My brother was hit by a van, thrown across the road and lived three weeks after surgery. He was 32. I was the only one left to make a life and death decision. My dad was already in the middle stages of Alzheimers and couldn’t make it.

    The doctor asked if I would sign a paper to not revive my only sibling if he were to die because he only had a one percent chance of survival. His kidneys and liver were pretty much destroyed from drugs, aside from the damage as a result of the accident. I hate to see others have to make those kind of decisions. You always wonder if it was the right one. But I felt he wouldn’t have wanted to be a vegetable, even for a short time. I have to live with that decision.

    1. Garry Rodgers Post author

      I’m so sorry to hear about your brother, Gippy. I think these situations are so personal that you just have to be there. Thanks so much for sharing this.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *