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How We Die: Reflections of Life's Final Chapter, New Edition Paperback – January 15, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Eloquent and uncommonly moving… Nuland writes with unsentimental passion."- Time
"Engrossing… We are in the hands of a remarkable portraitist whose cultivated thought… quietly and informatively instructs and advises us on a subject of universal concern."- The New York Times Book Review
"Nuland's work acknowledges, with unmatched clarity, the harsh realities of how life departs… There is compassion, and often wisdom, in every page."- San Francisco Examiner
"Nuland combines the clinical eye of a physician with… emotional and philosophical reflectiveness."- Newsday
- Publisher : Vintage; 1st edition (January 15, 1995)
- Language: : English
- Paperback : 278 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0679742441
- ISBN-13 : 978-0679742449
- Item Weight : 8.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.15 x 0.7 x 7.98 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #23,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Don't wait to think about what the end might be or mean for yourself or your loved ones. Think about it now. And having stood witness and caregiver to both of my parents, who died very different deaths, I found comfort in the author's observations. The forces medical and actuarial are larger than any individual or family. I only know it could have been better and it could have been worse.
We should speak more frequently and more honestly about death and the process of dying. It's frightening for all concerned - and yet utterly predictable. I recommend this book for it's open and engaging tone, it's honest appraisal of end of life "options" and it's ability to provide a more global perspective to one of our most intimate acts.
It also begs farther-reaching questions about the appropriateness of some medical treatments at certain life and disease stages as well as the persnickety question about allocating our diminishing resources for offering expensive medical treatments to all. As we age, at what point does it become selfish to take the resources away from younger, more viable bodies when we have lived good, long lives? If we weren't afraid or accepting of death, how would we behave differently?
Top reviews from other countries
"Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come."
We are all fearful of death. It comes. It comes when it should. But the passage through which it comes makes all the difference. It may come upon us so suddenly that we may not even get to be surprised. It may also come upon us in a prolonged deliberate fashion devastating us and our loved ones so much that it robs even the last vestiges of dignity. How it comes we have no control. But we can, definitely have some control over our acceptance to it. We can also have some control, at least some semblance of control, of how we react to it when it comes.
In his award-winning book How We Die, medical practitioner and surgeon Sherwin B. Nuland, he died in 2014 in the age of 84, talks about the choices we have during our life and when we die. During later period of our life, when chances of suffering due to some terminal disease increases many folds, its burden robs us of our decision-making faculties and we end up being a pawn in the hands of modern medicine practitioners.
Modern medicine, since the invention of Small Pox vaccine and penicillin have travelled a long distance, so much so, that it almost verges towards realm of science fiction. But in the process, it has robbed itself of the compassion that was the hall mark of medicine practitioners during previous centuries. Mr. Nuland knows what he is talking about. He was representative of that generation which witnessed the shift from hi compassion to hi dependence of technology in the practice of medicine. Modern practitioners of medicine are more of, what Nuland calls, a riddle solver than a care giver. This does not mean they do not care about the patients they treat. Far from it. In the process of focusing for the cure of the disease most often they forget the person for whom care is given. The focus, lamentably, shifts from the patient to the disease.
A time comes when one, as patient or as the loved one of the patients, must take a decision however hard it is. It is not about life as opposed to death, but about quality of life and knowing when to let go and face the inevitable. This choice can only be taken when the patient and her loved ones are aware of all the options and eventualities.
To quote the author “ …. Treatment decisions are sometimes made near the end of life that propel a dying person willy-nilly into a series of worsening miseries from which there is no extraction – surgery of questionable benefit and high complication rate, chemotherapy with severe side effects and uncertain response, and prolonged periods of intensive care beyond the point of futility. Better to know what dying is like, and better to make choices that are most likely to avert the worst of it. What cannot be averted can usually at least be mitigated.”
This book is important because it enlighten us of the situation that we as individual or as family must go through and gives us the right perspective so to deal with the inevitable that is death.