Journalist Katy Butler questions current end-of-life care practices in a book that is both compelling and affecting.
Reviewed by Michelle Dean for The Barnes & Noble Review
Death has the distinction of being the subject we'd all like most to avoid thinking about, but can't. Until not long ago, the reason for that was straightforward: The mortality rate continues to run at a clear-cut 100 percent, a fact that grows at once easier and more difficult to meditate on the older one gets.
For several decades now, however, members of an increasingly long-lived society have had more than our own final destination to preoccupy us. We are also faced with those of our parents. Novelists and other chroniclers of human consciousness have long explored the emotional trauma resulting from the death of a parent. But in the era of medically extended twilight years, the economics and psychology of the resulting scenarios can combine to produce something new – an unholy mess, a nightmarish and ghoulish business where the pain of loss can be swamped by the cost of its postponement. Because we still deal with our discomfort around death with silence, there is a lot of room in the subject for a real researcher to uncover. And in this field, they have.
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