INSIGHTS ON DEATH & DYING: Listening to the natural world

July 2004 
Volume 34  Number 7
Pages 66 - 66
  PDF Version Available!


  • Figure. No caption a...

    I'm amazed at how many terminally ill patients insist on aggressive and intrusive treatment at the end of their lives. People in my grandparents' era seemed much more willing to accept death as a natural, if unwelcome, occurrence. What's behind this change? —P.A., MICH.

    Figure. No caption available. In a word, technology.

    Technology equals options. I sometimes joke that Americans think death is optional. But it's really no laughing matter.

    In the old days, life expectancy was relatively short, and people lived their lives understanding this. But we modern Americans expect to live for 80 or 90 years…and this expectation translates into a demand to continue living at all costs. We tend to see death and dying as an insult rather than a natural part of life that may offer a final opportunity for personal growth.

    Many of us confuse quality of life with quantity of years lived. ...

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