Thursday, June 06, 2019

The Art of Dying Well


The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life by Katy Butler is designed for those age 50 or older and those who care for them. It is also useful reading for younger people facing a terminal illness. Butler maintains that we are “more terrified of death, and more unequipped for it, than we need be.” For most of history, dying was very much part of life. It happened at home under the care of family and friends, after which time the body was ceremoniously washed and dressed. Today, death is often treated as a medical procedure, stripped of dignity and humanity. It doesn’t have to be this way. “There is a way to a peaceful, empowered, humane death.”

Butler includes much practical information on what types of legal documents to have in place so that your wishes are followed, how to navigate the complex health care system, how to get help (or of you are a care-giver, how to give help and get a break when you need it), accepting death while continuing to life, the value of hospice, and how to aid someone who is actively dying. The glossary of medical terms is especially helpful.

This book is written from a secular perspective, yet has a respect for the sacred. There unfortunately is a section on physician-assisted suicide. I searched Amazon to see if there was a similar book written from a Catholic perspective and couldn’t find one. The value of the information in this book leads me to recommend it in spite of its endorsement of suicide for those who choose it.

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