Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Good Death; Ann Neumann

The Good Death; Ann Neumann
Beacon Press - 2016

It seems like the past year has brought us our share of books that deal with death and dying: Being Mortal and When Breath Becomes Air were two which I've read and thought were very well done.

My most recent read on the subject was by author, Ann Neumann shares the death and dying experience of her father and then further examines death in the American Culture.  Ann was 37 when she returned home to help care for her 60 year old father who was dying of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.  After refusing the last ditch chemo effort, he chose to go home to die.  Unfortunately, his death wish to die at home with his daughters and hospice helping out were not to be.  His drawn out death required that he be hospitalized for pain management levels that were not possible at home.

Ann shares some stories of her time as a hospice volunteer and discusses the history of death in the US.  She shares her findings about death experience and how the experience differs based on socioeconomic environment -- the wealthy, those in poverty as well as those incarcerated.   The Good Death also revisits some prominent right-to-die cases many of us recall to this day.  For me the Karen Ann Quinlan and Terry Schiavo cases seemed in some ways like a media circus.  It caused some individuals to change their views on living and dying and many others to put their final wishes in writing.

It's clear that the author believes that dying should be a "choice" and that individuals should have "choice" when recovery is no longer an option.  She believes that there is not one particular scenario that constitutes "a good death", it's a personal situation that individuals, even those who avoid thinking about death, need to start planning for by making your wishes known to loved ones.

"A good death is whatever the patient wants. There is no such thing as a perfect date as humans aren't perfect."

Overall, I felt this book was well-done although the focus seemed to shift abruptly at times.  An important subject, I'm glad I read it.

4/5 stars
(eGalley

15 comments:

  1. Books like this can be tough to read but we need to think about death before it's upon us.

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    1. Well put Kathy. It is a tough subject and overtime I start to mention little things like
      "when I'm gone" they don't want to hear it.

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  2. I agree that it is a great help to family members when they feel they know the wishes of the person who is ill. And how can they know if they are not told? I'm planning on reading this one too.

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    1. So true Kay Books like this are not easy to read and subject not easy to discuss with loved ones but we must do it.

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  3. Such a tough subject, but an important one that should be discussed.

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  4. I love the statement you chose to quote. If only an individual could be the master of the way in which he or she chooses to die.
    Judith

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    1. Yes and this would be especially appealing to a control freak like me -- if only.

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  5. None of these recent books about death are easy to read, but I feel that they are very important, especially to those of us with aging parents. And, of course, we're aging too, so it's good to examine our own thoughts and opinions/preferences in order to communicate our desires to our spouses and children. This is definitely going on my TBR list. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Diane.

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    1. I hope you find this one helpful. You are so correct the object matter is difficult but for a "controlling" type like me it's so important.

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  6. Today I finished reading Atul Gawande's Being Mortal and it gave me a lot to ponder. This book sounds worth reading too. I am a volunteer visitor to 2 ladies in an assisted living/memory care home, plus let's be honest, I am aging too!

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    1. It's so true none of us want to see how we are aging and time is slipping away. Time to think about things like this is sooner rather than later.

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  7. So many goo books on death. This one looks good too, even though I really want to read Being Mortal first.

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    1. Being Mortal was excellent actually all of these kinds of books compliment one another.

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  8. I think it's always good to read this kind of book if they're well done. We have to think about it before it's too late.

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