This morbid thought comes to mind from reading a post on LewRockwell.com about Tim Russert's death. The post was referred to me by PositiveLiberty co-blogger Jim Babka whose dealings with "Meet the Press" the post discusses. As Johnny Kramer's LRC article notes:
[Russert] was cut down far too soon by the same insidious, previously-asymptomatic, sudden cardiac death that was at least similar to what also claimed, among others, Bing Crosby in 1977; our own Murray Rothbard in 1995; and John Ritter in 2003. According to coverage of Russert’s passing, three-hundred thousand Americans suffer sudden cardiac death each year, taken from their loved ones with no warning and no previous signs or symptoms.
While it’s a terrible shock for the family and friends, apparently it’s an ideal way to go for the person who dies. On the June 16 episode of CNN’s Larry King Live, Dr. Mehmet Oz, New York cardiac thoracic surgeon, responded to the question of whether Russert suffered with, "I suspect he did not have much pain because as soon as you develop fibrillation, within seconds you pass out. From that perspective, it's the way I'd like to pass away, but I would rather do it when I'm 90."
No one wants to die a painful death and certainly an instantaneous death is preferable to that. However, from what I understand (and informed readers, please correct me if I am wrong), the actual experience of the brain "shutting down" (you know you hear the stories about your life flashing before your eyes) is supposed to be one of the pleasantest experiences a human can have. When dying people make that sound -- the "death rattle" -- I'd imagine is when that shutting down process is occurring.
Dying an instantaneous may deprive one of truly enjoying their death. Though as noted, it's certainly preferable to dying a violent painful death.
Don't think I have a death fixation when reading this. Like the doctor I don't want my death to occur until much later in life. But I'm even more optimistic and hope to have 100 good years. Everything after that would be gravy.