If you are mortal or know someone who is, please read this hopeful primer on death and dying, pain and suffering, helplessness and responsibility, dignity, love, and life.
Through powerful and moving stories of his patients and friends, Dr. Ira Byock demonstrates how American attitudes toward death and current medical practices combine to isolate, humiliate, and inflict unnecessary pain and suffering upon the frail and the dying. Byock starts by diagnosing what ails the medical profession: a lack of training in end-of-life care, a focus on the pathology rather than the patient, and the proliferation of medical subspecialties, which, when patients are moved from one doctor to the next, fragments care. These practices push patients who would prefer to die in comfort and dignity at home into ICUs where they suffer the pain of unwanted and expensive medical procedures and are cut...
Beyond the Book
One cannot finish Dr. Byock's book without resolving, as much as possible, to take responsibility for one's own death and to become deeply involved in the experiences and medical treatments of those we love who are dying.
His website, www.dyingwell.org, provides readers with additional information and helpful resources on the topic of dying, specifically on the emotional work required when saying our final farewells:
- A generous list of articles and editorials gives readers information on topics ranging from dying with dignity, to the debate on assisted suicide, to problems with current healthcare.
- In one of his books, The Four Things That Matter Most (2004), four phrases - "Please forgive me," "I forgive you," "Thank...