real life

'My best friend Molly died in the prime of her life. Here's what it's taught me.'

My best friend Molly died from Stage 4 breast cancer in 2019. We made a podcast about her end-of-life journey, Dying For Sex, where listeners were allowed full access into Molly's most personal thoughts, emotions and spiritual evolution over her final months (intertwined with a bunch of stories about the dozens of guys she dated after her diagnosis... spoiler alert: that's the "sex" part!)

Watch: Nikki Boyer talks about her best friend Molly and their podcast, Dying For Sex. Post continues after video.

Video via BUILD Series.

Sadly, Molly wasn't the first person close to me who has died, but her death changed me in a way the others didn't. Since her passing, I've talked about death more than I could ever imagine.

Molly allowed me to be completely present and connected to her during a process that was both beautiful and tragic. What a gift. Being so open and vulnerable together as her time slipped by allowed our friendship to deepen to a whole new level.

I miss her like crazy, but after she died, I felt a spiritual closeness with her I had never felt before with anyone. Like really close. I mean, before she died, she would tease that she was going to haunt me. And I warned her, "No poltergeist crap!" She's listened, mostly. One time about a year ago, she appeared in my bedroom in the middle of the night. I scolded her out loud and haven't had a visit since. Fingers crossed.


Molly died in the prime of her life, and there was nothing easy about her painful cancer journey. What she showed me was, if you are fortunate enough to navigate your own passing, gracefully... then you are one of the lucky ones. It's a privilege. Although watching Molly suffer was incredibly difficult, it allowed me the time to have profound conversations leading up to her last breath.

It's allowed me to wrap my brain around the fact that there is only one thing that will most certainly happen to every single one of us. We will die. So, why don't we ever talk about it? Why is it so scary? Why is it so hard? 


These are the questions that inspired me to create a new podcast called, Near Death, where my goal is to continue Molly's legacy by sharing amazing stories of life and death with Reverend Peggy, the chaplain who helped her die.

One of my main takeaways from that time in the hospital with Molly is, "get right with yourself." What I mean by that is, get really clear about what YOU want when your health declines. I get it. Nobody wants to think about it, and often we put it off until it's too late. But if you can get right with yourself, you can express what you need and want to the people around you.


What if you can't medically or physically can't express these things? Reverend Peggy has introduced me to the notion of Advance Healthcare Directives. What medical treatments you do or DO NOT want in the event you're incapacitated, or unable to communicate for yourself? Does your family and friend group know what's important to you? Who should make decisions for you if you can't? And what do you want to happen to you after you die? Do you want to be buried or cremated? Do you want to donate your body to science? What religious or non-religious traditions do you like? Do you want to have that great red lipstick put on you for your funeral? Do you even want a funeral? You have the right to give instructions about your own health care and decisions after you die. An Advance Directive document is legally binding!

These are uncomfortable things to talk about, so creating an Advance Directive ensures your wishes are met, and difficult decisions aren't left to the people that you leave behind. And it's easy. Send it in an email. Have it in an envelope in your keepsake box. Tape it to your refrigerator!

Most profoundly, I now have different types of conversations with people. I ask the uncomfortable questions. I sit in the uncomfortable silence. And I have learned that we all THINK about death, but most people don't share those thoughts. So my hope is, if you are reading this article, that somehow it gives you a little courage to think about and talk about death in a way that you may have never before.


My favorite aunt is getting older, and Dying For Sex and Near Death have opened up a new dialogue between us. Recently, she shared with me exactly what she wants her funeral to be like. What she doesn't want and what she hopes it will feel like. The kind of music that she wants to be played and what she wants the tablecloths to look like. The food she wants to be served and the people she hopes will come. She said she now feels comforted by the idea of dying... and that she's ready. I don't think I would've been able to have these conversations with her before my experience with Molly. It has given me a bandwidth that I didn't have before. And I am so grateful for that.

Listen to No Filter where Mia Freedman is joined by Nikki Boyer. Post continues below.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am still terrified to die and lose the people that I love. Like, every time my husband leaves the house he has to call me within 20 minutes because otherwise I'll assume there was a terrible accident and someone is dead on the side of the road. (I'm still in therapy figuring that one out...) 

If I ever again have the opportunity to gracefully walk someone home, I'm taking it. And I hope you take it. I hope you deal with the uncomfortable feelings now, so that you can be present and loving for someone during the moments that really matter. I hope that my grief and experience somehow makes someone else's passing a little more graceful and a little more easy to accept. Molly would love that too.

Feature Image: Instagram @nikkiboyer.