Final Acts: Death, Dying, and the Choices We Make

Overview


Today most people die gradually, from incremental illnesses, rather than from the heart attacks or fast-moving diseases that killed earlier generations. Given this new reality, the essays in Final Acts explore how we can make informed and caring end-of-life choices for ourselves and for those we loveùand what can happen without such planning.

Contributors include patients, caretakers, physicians, journalists, lawyers, social workers, educators, hospital administrators, ...

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Final Acts: Death, Dying, and the Choices We Make

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Overview


Today most people die gradually, from incremental illnesses, rather than from the heart attacks or fast-moving diseases that killed earlier generations. Given this new reality, the essays in Final Acts explore how we can make informed and caring end-of-life choices for ourselves and for those we loveùand what can happen without such planning.

Contributors include patients, caretakers, physicians, journalists, lawyers, social workers, educators, hospital administrators, academics, psychologists, and a poet, and among them are ethicists, religious believers, and nonbelievers. Some write moving, personal accounts of "good" or 'bad" deaths; others examine the ethical, social, and political implications of slow dying. Essays consider death from natural causes, suicide, and aid-in-dying (assisted suicide).

Writing in a style free of technical jargon, the contributors discuss documents that should be prepared (health proxy, do-not-resuscitate order, living will, power of attorney); decision-making (over medical interventions, life support, hospice and palliative care, aid-in-dying, treatment location, speaking for those who can no longer express their will); and the roles played by religion, custom, family, friends, caretakers, money, the medical establishment, and the government.

For those who yearn for some measure of control over death, the essayists in Final Acts, from very different backgrounds and with different personal and professional experiences around death and dying, offer insight and hope.

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Editorial Reviews

The Gerontologist

"Final Acts provides the reader with persuasive and enlightening views on the controversial complex issues that are illustrated in the personal stories. It is a collection of moving stories and compelling essays."
Transition Network Newsletter

"If there's one profound lesson to be learned from Final Acts, it is that most of us are woefully uninformed and unprepared to make wise end-of-life choices. A good place to begin is by reading this book."

— Eleanor Foa Dienstag

Global Action on Aging

"An insightful, complex, and pragmatic 'how-to' guide for dying in the Western world. Final Acts a is strong, well-composed, and balanced tool kit to help us all not only change our system to better maintain the integrity of the dying, but to enter into the end of life with confidence and control."
Transition Network Newsletter - Eleanor Foa Dienstag

"If there's one profound lesson to be learned from Final Acts, it is that most of us are woefully uninformed and unprepared to make wise end-of-life choices. A good place to begin is by reading this book."
President, Compassion & Choices - Barbara Coombs Lee

"The essays in Final Acts offer all manner of paths, exploring a new relationship with death. Wise and gentle guides, Bauer-Maglin and Perry reveal meaning and purpose in the journey."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813546285
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 11/15/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Nan Bauer-Maglin was formerly a professor of English, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY, and academic director of the CUNY Baccalaureate Program. She is the coeditor of "Bad Girls/Good Girls": Women, Sex, and Power in the Nineties (with Donna Perry), Women Confronting Retirement: A Nontraditional Guide, and Cut Loose: (Mostly) Older Women on the End of Their (Mostly) Long-Term Relationships (Rutgers University Press).

Donna Perry, a professor of English, teaches literature, writing, and women's studies courses at William Paterson University. She is the editor of Backtalk: Women Writers Speak Out and coeditor (with Nan Bauer-Maglin) of "Bad Girls/Good Girls": Women, Sex, and Power in the Nineties (Rutgers University Press).

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Table of Contents

Preface vii

Introduction 1

Part 1 Personal Stories 13

Notes on My Dying Ruthann Robson 19

Live Longer or Live Better? June Bingham 29

"Life which is ours to know just once" Nancy Barnes 33

Caregiving Beulah: A Relentless Challenge Susan Perlstein 55

E-mails to Family and Friends: Claude and Maxilla-Declining Gently Sara M. Evans 67

Whose Death is it, Anyway? Carol K. Oyster 91

The Family Tree Jean Levitan 111

Elegy for an Optimist Mimi Schwartz 123

Buddhist Reflections on Life and Death: A Personal Memoir Alan Pope 126

Death as My Colleague Mary Jumbelic 139

Part 2 Perspectives 149

The Transformation of Death in America Stephen P. Kiernan 163

Unintended Consequences: Hospice, Hospitals, and the Not-So-Good Death Kathryn Temple 183

The Hospital Ethics Committee: Solving Medical Dilemmas Natalie R. Hannon 204

Ethical Principles for End-of-Life Decision Making Candace Cummins Gauthler 220

Life or Death: Who Gets to Choose? Cherylynn MacGregor 238

Empowering Patients at the End of Life: Law, Advocacy, Policy Kathryn L. Tucker 252

Dying Down Under: From Law Reform to the Peaceful Pill Philip Nitschke Fiona Stewart 268

Ageism and Late-Life Choices Margaret Crufkshank 288

Physician-Assisted Suicide: Why Both Sides Are Wrong Ira Byock 301

End of days Marge Piercy 312

About the Editors and Contributors 315

Index 321

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