“A gripping and passionate account of how we face the final rite of passage. These stories mine the agility of the human spirit, and will not easily be forgotten.”—Danielle Ofri, author of Medicine in Translation and Singular Intimacies
Twelve Breaths a Minute—the latest collaboration between SMU Press and the Creative Nonfiction Foundation, with the support of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation—features twenty-three original, compelling personal narratives that examine the way we as a society care for the dying. Here a poet, a former hospice worker, reflects on death’s mysteries; a son wanders the halls of his mother’s nursing home, lost in the small absurdities of the place; a grief counselor struggles with losing his own grandfather; a medical intern traces the origins of time and the quality of our final days; a mother anguishes over her decision to turn off her daughter’s life support and allow her organs to be harvested; and an emergency dispatcher tries to quantify what a stranger’s death should mean.
“This remarkable anthology collects the reflections of family members, nurses, physicians, and hospice workers as they care for the dying. Looking back on their experiences, they ponder what they did well and what they might have done differently or not done at all. They despair over flailing efforts to do something when that can only prolong misery. Biomedical technology is sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse, and never sufficient in itself. Readers, who will at some time be in one or more of these caregiving roles, can learn important and valuable information from these reflections.”—Carol Donley, former co-director of the Center for the Literature, Medicine, and the Health Care Professions and co-author of Literature and Aging: An Anthology