People who die suddenly do not have the time to prepare for death. However, people who die from a terminal illness often have lots of time to think about death and to prepare for it. Doctors have identified five stages that most terminally ill patients go through when facing death. Understanding these stages can be valuable if one ever needs to help a dying friend or relative.

Not all terminally ill people go through these stages in the same order. Some may skip a stage, revert to an earlier stage, or get stuck in one stage. People experience dying with the same individuality that they experience living.






"There hasn't been a case like this in over a century. I'm quite suprised it's surfaced again in such a young reaper."

"Are you sure it's the Thorns of Death?"

"Look here William~ Don't you see the black lines on his wrists? Soon they'll creep up to his heart and snuff out his very life! We're very lucky that Mr. Eric was able to bring him here fast enough, he may not have been able to get through the first attack by himself."

"Yes, indeed. But Undertaker, when should he be waking?"

"A few minutes. He's been out for several hours now. But give him a few days to recover before putting him back to work. You are to give him time to rest when these attacks happen, do you understand William?"

"I understand Sir. I won't push him too far to where another attack may happen."

"Good boy~ Now, would you be the one to tell him what he has caught once he's up?"

"I'm afraid I may make it too blunt. Perhaps you should Undertaker. You do deal with the death and dying more than myself."

"Alright, oooh~ It seems he's coming around! Good morning to you Mr. Alan!"


Alan didn't know where he was or who was with him. Hell, he couldn't even remember where he was last. The last thing he could recall was he was out with Eric collecting souls, then he went to get the last one by himself, and then... that's where it all went blank. He could just vaugly remember the pain he felt at every nerve in his body, mainly his chest. He felt like he was underwater, moving slowly and unable to breath right. That shouldn't have been a problem for reapers! They didn't have to breath like humans did. Only now, he was just now coming back to his sences as his eyes slowly opened.

The world around him was blurry and dark, minus a flicker of light from the corner of his eye. There were two figures standing in front of him, both distored and he couldn't recognize who they were.

"Good morning to you Mr. Alan!"

That voice, however, Alan was able to recall. If it truely was who thought it was... then... was he dying? Already dead? He didn't know what to think about the situation he was in. He would have to make it simple and to act as though he was alright. He didn't need to worry anyone here.

"...he-hello Undertaker..." was that really his voice? It sounded so... dry and weak.

"Hnmmmm... perhaps a bit of water would help that throat of yours." a blur of silver and black was all Alan could make out as Undertaker went across the room to where the bathroom was.

"Here Mr. Humphries, I believe this should help." the other unknown figure slipped Alan's frameless glasses on his face. The brunette sighed in content as the world around him became at least five times more clearer, the cold metal on the sides of his face gave him a sence of comfort.

"Thank-thank you Sir..." he breathed, pulling himself up into a sitting position. The pillow his head was resting on was suddenly propped against the headboard, strong, gloved hands helped him to sit up all the way.

"How are you feeling Mr. Humphries?" William asked, taking his clipboard from the nightstand and pulling a pen out from his pocket.

" tired... my chest hurts a bit... it's tolerable though," Alan answered, squirming a bit uncomfortably in bed. Why was William asking him this? Did something happen to him?

For a while, the only sound in the room was William scribbling notes on paper and the water in the bathroom, soon followed by Undertaker's boots coming across the tiled floor.

"Here you are~ This should help a great deal!" the retired shinigami placed the cup of water in Alan's hand and the pitcher on the nightstand next to the flickering candle.

"...thank you..." he drank quickly, yet savoring how his throat didn't feel as parched anymore.

"If you are feeling better now Mr. Humphries..." William clicked his pen and placed it back inside his blazer. "...Undertaker has some... news for you..."

"News? Oh! You mean what happened to me?" he asked, sitting a bit straiter against the pillow.

"Presisouly what happened to you and also what is going to happen to you."

"...wait... what is going to happen?" there was a hint of fear in his voice. Was he just so injuried that there would be some long term affects? The way William sounded though... it didn't calm his nerves at all. He felt anxious and afraid. He hated not knowing what was going on. He hated being left in the dark.

"Alan... take a look at your wrist." Undertaker instructed, taking a seat on the bed.

"My... wrist?" he asked, giving the silver haired man a quizacle look.

"Just do it."

He nodded and flipped over his hand so he could see the back of his wrist. A sharp gasp passed through his lips when he saw the black line there. "What- what is that? !" he asked alarmed, looking to his other wrist to see the same thing.

"The begining to the Thorns. That's what it is."

"The-the Thorns?"

"Shi no Toge, or the Thorns of Death. A rare disease that only shinigami can have." William explained breifly. "I haven't seen this in over a century, acctually... this is the first time I've seen this in person."

"Thorns of-of Death?" he felt his throat close up, he was going to start crying unless he pulled himself together and tossed emotions aside as a proper shinigami should.

"Allow me to explain further" Undertaker piped in before clearing his throat. "The Thorns are contracted when a soul destined to die becomes veangeful, fighting against the shinigami that'd reaper it, manifesting itself in the form of the thorns. The thorns work their way through your body, starting at the wrists and eventually leading to the heart, which will cause a fatal attack. There is no known cure for it." as he explained, one long fingernail traced a red line from Alan's wrist, up his arm, and to his chest where his heart laid. He placed an open hand in front of his chest before closing it into a tight fist. "They'll snuff the life out of you. We won't know how long it'll take or when the attacks will happen. But except the unexpected my little lamb. Keep in mind- you are going to die."


Outside the Infirmary door, Eric Slingby was pressing his ear to the door, listening for every word that passed Undertaker's mouth. His friend... his best friend was going to die? And to top it all off... there was no way to cure it? No way to stop this from happening? Eric shook his head, this couldn't be happening to his Alan. He will find a cure, he had to. There had to be someway to save him. He didn't care what it was, he'll find something even if it meant putting his very life on the line.

When people know a loved one is dying, they may go through the same stages of accepting death of the dying person. They may deny that death is imminent. They may become angry, sometimes at the patient, especially of they have been dependent on the dying person. They may spend a great deal of time praying and bargaining for the person to recover. They may get depressed. And, ultimately, they may come to accept death and the need to survive in spite of it.