At the beginning of Victoria's memorial service, George, her husband, gave a welcome speech. The first memory he told us about was of the last few weeks or months of her life, when every morning she would wake up and they would share a beer. Even on her last day, he wet her lips with some beer, and he thought he could see a smile.
This reminded me of the story my uncle told after my Grandmother's funeral. He had visited her the weekend before she died. He'd asked her if there was anything he could get her or do for her to make her more comfortable, and she asked him to bring her a beer. I didn't think of her as a beer-drinker at all -- she drank wine with dinner, and sometimes a brandy before bed. But apparently one of the things that shuts down when you're dying is your ability to swallow, and beer was what she believed would go down the easiest.
This makes me sad that I didn't work harder to bring Bonnie (who was a beer drinker) beer when she was dying. I just assumed that it would conflict with all the other drugs she was taking, and be a problem for all the tubes. At the period when I was spending a lot of my visiting time giving her sponges to wet her mouth with, I did bring some coffee, and it turned out to be a mistake -- the diuretic effect of even less than an ounce of decaf coffee was too much for the tubes she was on.
This is only two anecdotes, but until recently I didn't really hear that many anecdotes about the care of the dying, so the fact that there are two suggests that there might be lots more. So maybe the institutions and people who deal with the dying all the time should try to figure out how they could provide the benefits of beer to all their patients.