Monday, March 30, 2015

Being Mortal

I read a lot of books, and enjoy most everything I read.

But when I sit indoors on a sunny-ish spring Sunday afternoon to devour a nonfiction title in a 24-hour gulp, then you know it's a good one.

And I'll go one step better than saying Being Mortal is a good book.

For anyone who is alive today and may eventually die, I'd say it's a must-read.

* * * * *

I would describe Being Mortal as a handbook to navigating the end of your life. Written by a surgeon who wrestles with his role in the medical management of sickness and aging, and peppered with his stories of patients and relatives whom he has accompanied to their life's end, the author scares me, shocks me, and stirs me to consider how I will one day face the end of my own.

I know. Sounds really depressing, right?

And while I will honestly admit that some parts are hard to take, the overall message of the book is downright uplifting.

I would paraphrase it like this:
We are each the authors of our own life stories. In today's world, many of us will die a slow, unwinding sort of death, in which modern medicine may try to have the final word. But we can and should make our own choices about how the final years, weeks and hours of our lives will be spent, and with advocacy and support, become the authors of our final destiny.  
Or maybe this is more to the point:
Live your life the way you want, all the way to the end. 
* * * * *

Because of my mom's struggles with Lewy Body Dementia, this book urges me to rethink the way I work to bring quality of life to her remaining years.

And as I've watched my mom face her end-of-life battles, I've definitely been reminded that my turn to face life's end will eventually come. Like many people who watch their parents suffer, my mom's illness can sometimes fill me with fear about my own fate.

Thanks to Being Mortal, I can now trust that there will be a light at the end of my journey, where I used to see only darkness. And any book that can deliver such a soul-satisfying message of peace and hope is a very good read indeed.

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