What should medicine do when it can't save your life? The modern healthcare system has become proficient at staving off death with aggressive interventions. And yet, eventually everyone dies--and although most Americans say they would prefer to die peacefully at home, more than half of all deaths take place in hospitals or health care facilities. At the End of Life--the latest collaborative book project between the Creative Nonfiction Foundation and the Jewish Healthcare Foundation--tackles this conundrum head on. Featuring twenty-two compelling personal-medical narratives, the collection explores death, dying and palliative care, and highlights current features, flaws and advances in the healthcare system. Here, a poet and 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 and meaning of time; a mother anguishes over her decision to turn off her daughter's life support and allow her organs to be harvested; and a nurse remembers many of her former patients. These original, compelling personal narratives reveal the inner workings of hospitals, homes and hospices where patients, their doctors and their loved ones all battle to hang on--and to let go.
About the Author
Editor Lee Gutkind has been exploring the world of medicine through writing for over 20 years. He is the author of Many Sleepless Nights: The World of Organ Transplantation, and the editor of four anthologies about health and medicine: Silence Kills: Speaking Out and Saving Lives; Rage and Reconciliation: Inspiring a Health Care Revolution; Healing; and Becoming a Doctor. He is the founder and editor of the magazine Creative Nonfiction, the first and largest literary journal to exclusively publish nonfiction, and has also published the essay collection Forever Fat and two books on writing, The Art of Creative Nonfiction and Keep It Real, among other titles. Gutkind currently teaches creative writing at Arizona State University's Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes. Francine Prose is a literary critic and author whose nonfiction works include Reading Like a Writer and biographical profiles including Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife and The Lives of the Muses: Nine Women and the Artists They Inspired. She has also written 12 novels, including My New American Life, Touch, and the National Book Award finalist Blue Angel. Prose is the president of the PEN American Center, and a Distinguished Writer in Residence at Bard College.
"This is an encouraging collection—not only in a very literal sense but also in the help it offers us in thinking about death, how clear it makes our lack of control over death (and so over life). The book is crammed with stories of parents, children, long-time patients, emergency cases, complete strangers. The dying are young, old, middle-aged, and, variously, brave, grumpy, accepting, difficult, defiant. The family and friends, doctors, nurses, EMTs, and chaplains who accompany them have a lot to say about what they’ve observed and learned and resolved to change. This is a valuable contribution to our store of works in the Medical Humanities that will likely cause both medical students and doctors to ponder new ways of dealing with their dying patients.” — Kathryn Montgomery, author of Doctors’ Stories and How Doctors Think
"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, MD, PhD, author of Medicine in Translation and Singular Intimacies