How to Die
This is an extraordinary essay from the New York Times about the death of an almost 80-year-old man. I post it with a few misgivings, as I expect this is not anyone's favorite topic. However, it is a certainty for us all, and I believe that all of us who have been diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening illness have given it more than a little thought. Surely, in thinking about our own deaths, we all have intense feelings and probably some strong opinions. Do we want to eek out every possible hour of life or would be prefer to die a little sooner with fewer high-tech interventions? Do we imagine being at home, in a hospice, in a hospital? Do we worry about pain or being a burden to our families? Do we trust our doctors to make the best decisions for us? Do our families know what we want?
There is a very useful document called Five Wishes which is the most "popular" (seems like an odd word to use) living will in America. It is very clear and very concrete in laying out our wishes in a range of situations. Even better, it encourages discussions within our families, so that we can be honest and direct and respectful of one another's feelings.
It is available here, and I strongly urge you to look at it.
If you live in Massachusetts, you likely are aware that there is a really imporant ballot question, Question #2, this year about Death with Dignity. If you are a Massachusetts voter and not yet informed, learn more here »
HOW TO DIE
By Bill Keller
ONE morning last month, Anthony Gilbey awakened from anesthesia in a hospital in the east of England. At his bedside were his daughter and an attending physician.
The surgery had been unsuccessful, the doctor informed him. There was nothing more that could be done.
"So I'm dying?" the patient asked.
The doctor hesitated. "Yes," he said.
"You're dying, Dad," his daughter affirmed.
"So," the patient mused, "no more whoop-de-doo."
"On the other side, there'll be loads," his daughter - my wife - promised.
The patient laughed. "Yes," he said. He was dead six days later, a few months shy of his 80th birthday.
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