Catwalker
Catwalker asked:

What would people think about someone giving this book to a person who may be terminally ill?

Holly Mcgregor I would say that it depends on where the person is on the spectrum of being terminally ill. This book would be fine for one whose disease is terminal but where progression of disease is uncertain and likely to be delayed by palliative treatment. As an example, those living with metastatic breast cancer are terminally ill however these patients are living longer, richer, more meaningful lives even in the face of their disease. As the director of a nonprofit, and having just finished this book, I took a risk and made dying the topic of a weekly lunch discussion. Usually our topics are focused on survivorship but it was Halloween and I took advantage of the timing just to see what would happen. It was one of the best discussions we've ever had. Gawande's Being Mortal is inspiring such discussions. "What are your goals? Where is your "line in the sand" when it comes to deciding how you want to live in your last weeks and months?" Most people do not want to suffer but few have defined what "suffering" means for them. I truly loved this book. I wish I had read it as my father was declining. My sisters and I cared for him intuitively. His passing was gentle and according to his wishes but we never, ever addressed that he was dying.
Caleb A marvelous book to read -- but I would think that it would a lot of digest in a time of need. A hospice worker in the book, Creed, said that what is said to the patient is very important, not "I'm sorry for your condition" (which distances one from the patient) but something like, "how can we make your life as full possible -- let's get started on it now!" This is the kind of book that caregivers should read, and reread. So much great advice and so insightful on what people need at the end of their lives (including the chance to say good bye to family, to be without pain, to have the choice of whether heroic measures should be used, etc.).

Atul Gawande has written another fantastic book!

Caleb Burns
Jan Pillinger I'm terminally ill with metastatic cancer and I'm reading it. I heard him speak on radio 4's Reith lectures, which are available on podcasts and he was brilliant in the way he spoke about death and dying. I'm finding the book very helpful as family and friends find death such a difficult subject, but it's something very much on my mind and I like to talk.
I would tell someone about the book first and see if it's something they want to take further before giving them a copy. I'm a Methodist minister and it would have been helpful to me to read in my training.
LL Dunn I agree, it would be best for family members to read. Terrific book.
Ellie at BookBucket Personally I think the time to read this book is now, before illness strikes. Being a nurse and seeing the emotional as well as physical suffering of both patients and families, I believe this book opens discussion amongst families as to how they would want a terminal illness managed - BEFORE they have to deal with a diagnosis and all that that entails.
Margaret I'm dealing with elderly parents and a sibling with cancer. So my adult children gifted me with this book. Good idea. I don't think I'll share it with my parents.
Mark maybe better for family members.
Michelle Martini No, don't do it. A friend recommended it to me when we found out that my mother-in-law has terminal cancer at age 50. This book talks mostly about infirm 80 and 90 year olds. I found that it didn't deal with the existential questions of death or the specifics of the end of life for sick people. It depressed me because it spoke of and introduced people who have lived very long lives.
Huo This is a great book and I truly love it. Although being someone not from the Unites States or western medical/elder-care system, I still find it very inspiring and honest and I can easily relate the stories to the surrounding people. The sad thing is, I don't think I can give this book either to my parents or to my aunt, who has been diagnosed with late stage stomach cancer, simply because our culture and society is not ready to embrace the ideology yet, but my generation will :)
Frank It's more appropriate to give to the family rather than the person who is ill.
Tina It depends...As a terminally ill woman with ALS, I am a realist and appreciated the recommendation from a cherished caregiver. However, I have a much beloved sister, terminally ill with multiple myeloma (cancer) who has exhausted her medical options, I'm certain it would not be appreciated.
Serene This is a horrible subject that nobody wants to deal with and it all has to deal with emotions and communicating wants - of the patient, of the family members and the doctors. It's very hard to ask someone how they want to die. And if there are cognitive issues, it makes it even harder. I would give this book to someone depending on their personality. That's about all I can say.
Deborah It would depend on the person,. I have a friend who has recently been diagnosed with advanced cancer and have not exactly recommended it to her. But I have mentioned it and sent her a few quotes from it. She is struggling to decide which treatment options to choose and I think this book could help her with that decision. On the other hand, I worry that she will think I don't believe she will survive the cancer. I also recommended the book to an elderly friend who is not yet facing significant health challenges but who is definitely becoming more frail and having a harder time living alone. She did not sound interested in reading it.
Rachel Fortier I think this book is better for people who are taking care of elders/disabled or losing their autonomy, etc. than the people themselves.

The book help us to understand that what's really important is to respect what the elderly wants to live their life without the fear/need of the taker being "in the way".

We realise that what those people want are a real home not an institution, they want freedom to choose their friends, their place, their activities and not what the institution/helper think they should need/want.

So, if you know someone that you think "should" be in a nursing home, you can help them choose an environment that responds to their needs and wants... because security and control feel like prison to them and most of the time elders feel a sense of lost and decrease of emotional and physical health when in such environments.

But, hmm, Keren Wilson, is a real Hero... just saying :)
L Celoni This would be a wonderful book to give to someone struggling with critical health issues IF you have read it and can discuss it with them. It is very good information but is hard to read as it deals with difficult questions head on. I would not just send to to someone without a good repore.
Stephanie Tubman I agree that it is better for caregivers (essential actually!) but that it could be helpful for a patient whose progression is well controlled, with several months or possibly years to live, and who is likely to benefit from palliative care at some point. If the patient is particularly ill or acutely terminal (i.e. is already on hospice) it would probably not be a good use of their time. Parts of it would be uplifting and empowering but others might exacerbate anxiety about death. If they have elderly patients they are continuing to care for through their own illness, they may get more out of it though. I feel there should be a version of this book for patients who are not sure how to have more honest conversations with their family members about end of life care.
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