One of John Donne's Holy Sonnets opens with the famous injunction:
Death be not proud,
though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful,
for thou art not so.
It is interesting to contemplate these words from the 1600s in the light of modern culture and even more so in the light of modern medicine. Today, death may indeed be mighty and dreadful for the many who die in the midst of, or despite, extreme end-of-life medical procedures. And while Donne exhorts the character Death to be humbled with those first four words of his sonnet, after reading Katy Butler's Knocking on Heaven's Door, these lines cause me, instead, to think about how I, and those closest to me, must take proactive steps to make it possible for us to be the proud ones at the time of death.
It's understandable if you are cringing at the thought of reading a whole book on this uncomfortable topic. And yes, I did ...
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