by Atul Gawande, 2014, Picador
What a depressing subject! And yet, this is a book I found I couldn’t put down. It is a book that everybody should read because, for many of us, our death or the deaths of our family members will not come quickly but will be a prolonged process. This book provides a great deal of guidance and thought as to how to prepare and handle those situations.
The insight the author provides is extremely valuable as he seems to have garnered it from a long career that involved a great deal of contact with persons suffering from debilitating and painful disease at the end of their lives. The wisdom he passes along through his book is truly priceless. What I really appreciated was that he does not talk down to the reader. He basically says that he, as a physician, didn’t have a clue about any of this stuff either, but gradually came to his conclusions through a great deal of experience that he is eager to share.
Additionally, the book is extremely well written and structured. That prose of this high quality could be written by a physician is a bit beyond belief, so I will surmise that he had an outstanding editor. There are many authors out there whose primary livelihood is writing who don’t come even close to writing the way this book is written.
In reading the book one naturally refers to the deaths of close family members. In my case, I constantly thought of my father who died of prostate cancer after dealing with the disease for many years. I thought of all the decisions we made for him and the decisions we left for him and I found myself asking what we did right and what we could have done better. I was pleased that the book reinforced some of the actions we took but it also gave me a lot of insight as to what my perceptions would have been had I been in the same situation.
I have found that, after reading this book, I am constantly recommending it to many of my friends and family members. In fact, for my family, I am going to suggest that it be required reading for the guidance it might provide them as to how I would like to be treated if and when I am in that same situation.