Saturday, December 19, 2009

Best Places to Die in the USA

Every living thing in this dimension suffers from extinction. Death is a part of life. It’s merely a matter of when and how. A coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave die but once.

All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players. Life is a three-act play -- birth, death and everything else in between. When the final curtain drops on the players, the audience applauds and life goes on.

Forbes Magazine, ever eager to promote optimal decision-making, has recently ranked the best places to die. The results are based on the following five categories with the weighted percentage of importance in parenthesis.

A) (44 percent) Health Care Quality – How well patients were treated for a variety of diseases based on the latest available data originally published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

B) (22 percent) Cancer Deaths in Hospitals, Nursing Homes, or at Home – Researchers at Brown University tracked where cancer patients were likely to die (home being the preferred choice).

C) (22 percent) Percent of Medicare Patients using Hospice in the Last Year of life – Data from the Dartmouth Atlas of Health based on the percentage of Medicare patients cared for at home in the last year of life.

D) (8 percent) Legal Protection – Based on an American Bar Association report on law and aging which rates each state in terms of quality and comprehensiveness of law for the elderly.

E) (4 percent) Estate Taxes – Computed, by state, for an estate worth $10 million legated by the widow or widower to their direct heirs, based on each individual state's estate and gift tax code.

For those concerned about such matters, perhaps you should switch to a decaf. The top places to die are:

1) Utah
2) Oregon
3) Delaware
4) Colorado
5) Hawaii
6) New Hampshire
7) Iowa
8) North Dakota
9) Vermont
10) Montana

Apparently, Utah is the best place to die. I've been to Utah and would wholeheartedly agree. If I’m not mistaken, Utah is a Ute Indian word meaning land of salt and boredom.

According to Mormon folklore, Utah is the land nobody wanted. But the Mormons yearned for a place where they could practice their religion without interference from the outside world, so they settled in the barren desert and set up shop. They frown on alcohol and gambling, but tend to have lots of kids -- not much else to do.

A few days ago, I wrote a piece about the best places to live in the USA. Based on longevity, Utah was third, behind Hawaii and Minnesota, as the number one state in which to live.

In Utah, you will live longer than almost anywhere else in the country and it’s the number one place to die (based on the above criteria). If you are a Latter-day Saint, you will fit right in. If you are any other form of Saint, you should probably practice your sainthood elsewhere.

The following states are at the bottom of the list. If you live in one of these states, you might consider moving to Salt Lake City and joining the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

45) Texas
46) New Jersey
47) Mississippi
48) Louisiana
49) Ohio
50) Illinois

Birth is a blessed gift, death is inevitable and everything else in between is up to us. You can either live life to the fullest or screw it all up. In the end, all that truly matters is the impact, or lack thereof, you left on the world.

But don't worry too much about the end of existence in this dimension. It's just another phase we go through on the eternal sojourn of the soul into the infinite.

And eternity is a very long time, especially toward the end.

Quote for the Day -- “There are worse things than death -- like spending an afternoon with an insurance salesman.” Woody Allen

Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and the ghost of John the Revelator. His blogs appear on several websites, including


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