Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande (2014)

The puzzle of death is one that many religions claim to answer, though I suspect few, no matter how pious, devoted, or faithful, could with a sense of certainty honestly say they feel comfortable they understand it. Perhaps that is why those who embody what we don't understand - and therefore often fear - are so often looked upon as analytical problems to be solved with the outcome of prolonged living.

This book dares to challenge all of us - both medical professionals and people like me, non-professionals who inevitably find ourselves at one time or many times helping people we know and perhaps love reach their end.  The challenge is one of humaneness.  It's one of respecting the wishes of the dying, and honoring their dignity.

Filled with stories, including of the author's own father's journey toward death, Gawande's book brings emotion to a clinical issue, and that's the way I think it should be.

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