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Twelve Breaths a Minute: End of Life Essays

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  64 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
“A gripping and passionate account of how we face the final rite of passage. These stories mine the agility of the human spirit, and will not easily be forgotten.”—Danielle Ofri, author ofMedicine in TranslationandSingular Intimacies
Twelve Breaths a Minute—the latest collaboration between SMU Press and the Creative Nonfiction Foundation, with the support of the Jewish Heal
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 31st 2011 by Southern Methodist University Press
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Catherine Shattuck
Jan 24, 2012 Catherine Shattuck rated it it was amazing
There is no question that the subject of these essays is somber, sad, and often depressing. Nonetheless, I plowed through them all in just a few days. Some are exquisitely written, especially "Yellow Taxi" and "Do You Remember." I was also moved by the father-son dynamic in "Snowing in Krakow" and the last image from that story will stay with me forever; it was beautiful and poignant and so sad. The ones that made me sob were the ones written by mothers about their children. The ones that made ...more
Mar 18, 2012 Joann rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone - late teens and up
Recommended to Joann by: NPR Interview
I read this book after hearing it's editor, Lee Gutkind, interviewed on NPR. Having recently been down this path dealing with end-of-life issues related to my Dad, the topic was one which was acutely fresh. In this interview, he discussed the various paths taken in end of life care as well as the many issues we encounter when a loved one is dying, such as when the goal of medical care can/should switch from one of agressive treatment to palliative measures. We will all face such decisions on one ...more
Feb 12, 2012 Ann rated it really liked it
A collection of personal essays from nurses, physical therapists, social workers, doctors, and families of patients who have died. Particularly touching are the two pieces written by parents about the deaths of their children (in one case, the Mom makes a decision to donate her child's organs and then explores the implications of that). What became clear to me is that 1) no one deals with death well; even if you're a professional hospice worker and its a member of your family and an expected ...more
Jan 02, 2012 Pam rated it really liked it
Essays by medical professionals, family members, and others dealing with end-of-life issues. Overwhelmingly argues for natural deaths, that heroic measure do not prolong the kind of life most people would want. Some were very powerful, e.g., an intern asked to remove life support from her mentor's mother and realizing she doesn't know what to do, a mother authorizing the harvesting of her daughter's organs and wondering if she is really dead when it happens. Taken as a whole, definitely ...more
Angie crosby
Feb 02, 2012 Angie crosby rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed these essays, even though many were hard to read.

Thus was an eye opening account of what happens at the end of life. How the medical community and people react as well as the tough choices that must be faced.
Oct 24, 2011 Rhiannon rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed these essays. Some tearjerkers for sure. From a RNs point of view, we all need to talk more about death and dying.
Dec 08, 2011 Peggy rated it liked it
Some stories were really great, others not so much.
Eleanor Vincent
May 04, 2012 Eleanor Vincent rated it it was amazing
An amazing collection of essays about how we live as we die and the kinds of decisions we all must make at the end of life. This collection is now out in paperback, and has been retitled "At the End of Life: True Stories About How we Die." I found it honest, moving, and inspiring. My essay, "The Resurrection of Wonder Woman" appears in this collection and discusses the emotional and ethical questions surrounding my decision to donate my daughter Maya's organs and tissues at the time of her ...more
Kay Carman
Feb 23, 2016 Kay Carman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: death
Marking this book of 23 essays on end-of-life issues with a five star rating indicating that I "loved" it seems somewhat irreverent. The five stars I've given it indicate that I found it profoundly moving and powerful, and it's made what I expect to be a permanent change in the way I think about death and end-of-life issues.

Here are a few comments from reviews printed on the back of the book that I think are spot on:

"...will not easily be forgotten."

"...poignant, thoughtful, and boldly honest i
May 09, 2013 sylas rated it really liked it
A collection of vignettes about experiences with death and loss, this book is an excellent and accessible tool for folks interested in palliative care or end of life work. This book was thoughtful and engaging; the stories were varied enough that I could sit down and read several at a time (a feat for me, what with my aversion to the short story format). The authors in this collection don't appear to be very culturally diverse -- most were older Jewish folks -- but, again, the stories were each ...more
Apr 23, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it
Different people writing their experiences with death, death of loved ones, parents, children, friends. It's a tear jerker for sure - unless you have noone in your life that you truely love.
The essays are very similar in that it really questions the prolonging of life after a certain point of illness or age, quality vs quantity. Especially in the essays from children caring for their elderly parents.
It was an interesting read, causing lots of thoughts and review of my own personal beliefs and
Mar 10, 2014 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Shelves: death-and-dying
This book was awesome. It includes essays from all sorts of people (writers, nurses, doctors, etc. - a bit heavy on doctor's essays, but I'm probably just saying that because I'm a nurse) about the end of life. They are thoughtfully written and insightful. There is a lot that is quotable, but instead of making this a long review, just go get yourself a copy (or check it out of the library like I did) and read the whole thing!
Sep 28, 2013 Alan rated it really liked it
This is a very good collection of essays about end of life issues. The 23 essays were written by survivors, physicians, nurses, hospice workers, and nursing home workers. They are insightful and moving. They discuss a very real problem, how we die. Do we die at home surrounded by friends, or in the hospital in a futile effort to do everything possible to stave off the inevitable. Well written and well edited. Worth a read.
Ginny rated it liked it
Jul 12, 2014
Caroline Burau
Caroline Burau rated it it was amazing
Apr 19, 2012
Spangle1 rated it it was amazing
Sep 27, 2011
Lisa Ohlen Harris
Lisa Ohlen Harris rated it it was amazing
Nov 05, 2013
Susie Webster-toleno
Apr 15, 2012 Susie Webster-toleno rated it it was amazing
Recommended reading for anyone who might die someday ... or who loves someone who will.
Blair rated it it was amazing
May 08, 2013
Carolyn Strong
Carolyn Strong rated it really liked it
Feb 01, 2013
Anne Marshall
Anne Marshall rated it it was amazing
May 07, 2015
Maria Weir
Maria Weir rated it it was amazing
Jun 08, 2014
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Dec 27, 2013
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Kenneth E. Resch
Kenneth E. Resch rated it it was amazing
Jan 15, 2014
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May 01, 2012
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Apr 28, 2012
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Lee Gutkind has been recognized by Vanity Fair as “the godfather behind creative nonfiction.” A prolific writer, he has authored and edited over twenty-five books, and is the founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction, the first and largest literary magazine to publish only narrative nonfiction. Gutkind has received grants, honors, and awards from numerous organizations including the National ...more
More about Lee Gutkind...

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