About a quarter of the way through Atul Gawande's wonderful, disturbing, but ultimately hopeful new book, Being Mortal, I said to my wife "We've got to talk!" I had become convinced that we are not ready for death or, more precisely, for the long period of declining capabilities and pain that Gawande warns us is the increasingly common prelude to death in modern society.
I had thought we were ready. We have wills, health care proxies and durable powers of attorney. We have had the conversation everyone needs to have about when -- if ever -- to pull the plug and what to do with our bodies. We have talked about who to notify and memorial services. We have written a le...
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