ACCEPTING MORTALITY

Posted at Tried With Fire:

There have been so many advances in public health and medicine that we live longer and healthier lives. While this is a wonderful blessing from God, have we forgotten that we are mortal? Do we believe that we will always be as healthy as we were in our prime with no diminution of mind or physical strength because conventional medicine (or alternative therapies) can provide a cure for everything? As a result of this, have we lost the ability to walk alongside loved ones who face aging and dying?

These are questions raised in Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. The author is a Harvard-trained surgeon who is on the faculty of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, so he knows of what he speaks. In his career as a physician, he has noticed the lack in the medical profession and even in society-at-large of helping people who face illness, disability, and death. These issues are treated solely as medical problems so the soul-care (my word) is absent when hard decisions need to be made. For example, very often the most aggressive treatment includes higher risks for poor quality of life. How do we balance the preservation of life and maintain its dignity and meaning? For the record, Gawande is no advocate at all of physician-assisted suicide and actually sees it as a failure to properly address mortality.

Like a good philosopher, he tries to get to the underlying mindset of our fear of mortality: ...


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