A reassuring and thoroughly researched guide to maintaining a high quality of life--from resilient old age to the first inklings of a serious illness to the final breath--by the New York Times bestselling author of Knocking on Heaven's Door.
The Art of Dying Well is about living as well as possible for as long as possible and adapting successfully to change. Packed with extraordinarily helpful insights and inspiring true stories, award-winning journalist and prominent end-of-life speaker Katy Butler shows how to thrive in later life (even when coping with a chronic medical condition), how to get the best from our health system, and how to make your own "good death" more likely. This handbook of step by step preparations--practical, communal, physical, and sometimes spiritual--will help you make the most of your remaining time, be it decades, years, or months.
Butler explains how to successfully age in place, why to pick a younger doctor and how to have an honest conversation with her, when not to call 911, and how to make your death a sacred rite of passage rather than a medical event.
This down-to-earth manual for living, aging, and dying with meaning and even joy is based on Butler's own experience caring for aging parents, as well as hundreds of interviews with people who have successfully navigated a fragmented health system and helped their loved ones have good deaths. It also draws on interviews with nationally recognized experts in family medicine, palliative care, geriatrics, oncology, hospice, and other medical specialties. Inspired by the medieval death manual Ars Moriendi, or the Art of Dying, T he Art of Dying Wellis the definitive update for our modern age, and illuminates the path to a better end of life.
"No, you won't survive your death, but you can live until the very last moment without the pain and humiliation that inevitably accompany an over-medicalized dying process. Katy Butler shows how, and I am profoundly grateful to her for doing so." - Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Natural Causes
" Knocking on Heaven's Door is a thoroughly researched and compelling mix of personal narrative and hard-nosed reporting that captures just how flawed care at the end of life has become." - Abraham Verghese "New York Times Book Review "
"This is a book so honest, so insightful and so achingly beautiful that its poetic essence transcends even the anguished story that it tells. Katy Butler's perceptive intellect has probed deeply, and seen into the many troubling aspects of our nation's inability to deal with the reality of dying in the 21st century: emotional, spiritual, medical, financial, social, historical and even political. And yet, though such valuable insights are presented with a journalist's clear eye, they are so skillfully woven into the narrative of her beloved parents' deaths that every sentence seems to come from the very wellspring of the human spirit that is in her." - Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland, author of How We Die: Reflections of Life's Final Chapter
"This is some of the most important material I have read in years, and so beautifully written. It is riveting, and even with parents long gone, I found it very hard to put down. ... I am deeply grateful for its truth, wisdom, and gorgeous stories--some heartbreaking, some life-giving, some both at the same time. Butler is an amazing and generous writer. This book will change you, and, I hope, our society." - Anne Lamott "author of Help, Thanks, Wow "
"Shimmer[s] with grace, lucid intelligence, and solace." - Lindsey Crittenden "Spirituality and Health Magazine "
Katy Butler's articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Best American Science Writing, and The Best American Essays. A finalist for a National Magazine Award, she lives in Northern California. She is the author of Knocking on Heaven's Door and The Art of Dying Well.