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.