It was 6 months ago today that my grandfather passed away.
He'd raised me like I was his son, and I thought of him like a father.
2 years ago he was diagnosed with Interstital Pulmonary Fibrosis, a disease in which scar tissue forms inside the lung, making breathing difficult and painful. There is no cure. Steroids and gamma interferon help, but they have very nasty side effects (and interferon costs about $500 per dose)
At first, he didn't let the disease bother him, he'd continue to try to do all the things he'd done before. But it wasn't long before even simple, everyday tasks became difficult work. Eventually he required my assistance for everything. His inability to fend for himself probably bothered him more than the pain and difficulty breathing.
Six months ago to the day, I was wheeling him from the bathroom back into his bedroom. When I tried to help him into bed, I noticed he'd become unresponsive. I physically lifted him into bed, and noticed his breathing had slowed. I knew his wishes; if I called the paramedics, they would be legally required to do everything possible to save him; he didn't want that. I ran and got my grandmother, and we sat there next to him, holding his hands as he passed away.
I think his was the best possible death, quiet, peaceful, in his own bed, in his own home, with his loved ones at his side. He was no longer in pain, he no longer had to feel he was a burden to others.
God, I still miss him so much.