This was from Dr. Salwitz' post Friday. Go read the whole thing. He's an oncologist and knows more about death than most people.
A poorly managed end-of-life experience can transform families for generations. I recently heard of a young man who suffered a miserable protracted death from cancer. This resulted in his wife becoming chronically depressed and isolated from her family. She committed suicide, leaving their son a life as an alcoholic and drug addict. The ripples from that one cancer spread out and, through the network of that family, caused pain for many more.