Pull the headset over your eyes and the world around you fades. You have become 66-year-old Clay Crowder, and you are dying.

Your doctor looks into your eyes and quietly explains that medical treatments aren’t working. The lung cancer has spread. You have four to six months left.

Later at home, you doze while listening to your wife and two daughters discuss your care with a hospice worker. As death nears and pain intensifies, you see what’s happening inside your body. Your lungs and rib cage begin to heave rapidly. Medication eases your discomfort. Your breathing returns to a slow rattle.

Family members gather around your bed. You hear them talking. Prompted by a hospice nurse, your wife tells you that it’s all right to let go.

“It’s OK, honey,” she says. “You’ve got your girls here … ”

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