News Headlines Article

What is a good death? How my mother planned hers is a good road map for me.
Washington Post

Years ago, I called my brother to ask whether he would serve as my health proxy, charged with making decisions about my care in the event of some unforeseeable disaster.

“Sure,” he said affably, and then added: “You should be mine, too. I mean, if I lost a leg or something, I wouldn’t want to live. You’d pull the plug, right?”

Unsettled by our widely disparate visions of a good life — and a good death — I quickly hung up and called my sister instead.

But more than a decade later, as we saw our mother succumb to the final stages of an indignant, drawn-out death from Alzheimer’s disease, I find myself returning to my brother’s words. I still find his view of a good life terribly narrow: If I lost a leg, I would certainly want to live. But I have also come to appreciate his utter certainty about what a good life — and a good death — looks like for him.

Commands