a place to die

Bildeiche Bühlertal (7)Is it a soothing or a haunting thought, needing to answer the question where one would like to die: In hospital anonymity, motorway immediacy or nature’s tranquility? Or at home in bed? Would you know?


Where would you like to die?

Bildeiche Bühlertal (15)It might be frightening for some if they could choose, some might just not care. Is it important what your eyes see last before they never see no more?

Would a choice scare you?

Bildeiche Bühlertal (8)If you believe that it is important, you do not want to stare at a plain white ceiling, home or hospital, only the sounds are different the view from the bed will be the same. Wouldn’t you want beauty, colour and life around you to say goodbye?

Bildeiche Bühlertal (6)

In the woods around Bühlertal in the Black Forest, there stands a stone right next to a plain bench. The stone commemorates the GP of the small town. So does the bench. Wilhelm Hammes died on this bench. He is not buried here, though.

Bildeiche Bühlertal (10)

He was found by a wood worker 27th November 1990, sitting on this bench as if he was resting and indeed he was.

Bildeiche Bühlertal (19)Maybe he knew he was going towards the end (he was a doctor after all) and maybe he wanted to face it at his favourite spot, right out there in the autumn glory of his home town’s woods. Where the blackbirds rustle among the leaves on the ground and the distant chainsaw roars in between the calls of the buzzard and the clear cold wind carries notes of resin and dark earth.

Bildeiche Bühlertal (1)It is not a common thought in modern Europe but many tribal customs evolve around the right place to die, withdrawal to die is also known of animals, cats do it. The Guarani, indigenous people of South America, withdraw to the woods when they feel their time is near.

to draw the last breath of mountain air

Bildeiche Bühlertal (27)The last bit of air, the last breath, melting with the woods and the mountains and all the colours nature spills in abundance before everything goes cold and dead in winter. Before time ends.

If it is important what you see last before you die, then the doctor could not have found a better spot.