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?
Would a choice scare you?
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?
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.
He was found by a wood worker 27th November 1990, sitting on this bench as if he was resting and indeed he was.
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.
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
If it is important what you see last before you die, then the doctor could not have found a better spot.