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The Day I Die: The Untold Story of Assisted Dying in America

The Day I Die: The Untold Story of Assisted Dying in America

by Anita Hannig
The Day I Die: The Untold Story of Assisted Dying in America

The Day I Die: The Untold Story of Assisted Dying in America

by Anita Hannig


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An intimate investigation of assisted dying in America and what it means to determine the end of our lives.

In this groundbreaking book, award-winning cultural anthropologist Anita Hannig brings us into the lives of ordinary Americans who go to extraordinary lengths to set the terms of their own death. Faced with a terminal diagnosis and unbearable suffering, they decide to seek medical assistance in dying—a legal option now available to one in five Americans.

Drawing on five years of research on the frontlines of assisted dying, Hannig unearths the uniquely personal narratives masked by a polarized national debate. Among them are Ken, an irreverent ninety-year-old blues musician who invites his family to his death, dons his best clothes, and goes out singing; Derianna, a retired nurse and midwife who treks through Oregon and Washington to guide dying patients across life's threshold; and Bruce, a scrappy activist with Parkinson's disease who fights to expand access to the law, not knowing he would soon, in an unexpected twist of fate, become eligible himself.

Lyrical and lucid, sensitive but never sentimental, The Day I Die tackles one of the most urgent social issues of our time: how to restore dignity and meaning to the dying process in the age of high-tech medicine. Meticulously researched and compassionately rendered, the book exposes the tight legal restrictions, frustrating barriers to access, and corrosive cultural stigma that can undermine someone's quest for an assisted death—and why they persist in achieving the departure they desire.

The Day I Die will transform the way we think about agency and closure in the face of death. Its colorful characters remind us what we all stand to gain when we confront the hard—and yet ultimately liberating—truth of our mortality.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781728244914
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 05/03/2022
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 340,814
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Anita Hannig is associate professor of anthropology at Brandeis University, where she teaches classes on the cultural dimensions of medicine and death and dying. She spent five years studying how access to assisted dying is transforming the ways Americans die. In recent years, Anita has emerged as a leading voice on death literacy in America, giving interviews for the Washington Post, USA Today, and the Boston Globe. She has written for Cognoscenti, Undark Magazine, and the Seattle Times, among others.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Nothin' about the Blues 1

Introduction: A New Way to Die 21

Part I Losing Control

Chapter 1 Spinning Away 35

Chapter 2 When Hospice Isn't Enough 55

Part II Navigating Obstacles

Chapter 3 Restrictive Laws 75

Chapter 4 Invisible Death 93

Chapter 5 A Bureaucratic Maze 111

Chapter 6 Medical Gatekeepers 133

Chapter 7 The Science of Dying 155

Chapter 8 Family Matters 177

Part III Regaining Control

Chapter 9 Flying Free 195

Chapter 10 Crossing Over 215

Chapter 11 Together in Grief 235

Part IV The Way Forward

Chapter 12 New Frontiers 251

Epilogue 269

Acknowledgments 275

Reading Group Guide 279

A Conversation with the Author 283

Resources 287

Notes 289

About the Author 299

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