Today most people die gradually, from incremental illnesses, rather than from the heart attacks or fast-moving diseases that killed earlier generations. Given this new reality, the essays in Final Acts explore how we can make informed and caring end-of-life choices for ourselves and for those we love-and the consequences of dying without such planning. Contributors include patients, caretakers, physicians, journalists, lawyers, social workers, educators, hospital administrators, psychologists, and a poet.
Among them are ethicists, religious believers, and nonbelievers. Some write moving, personal accounts of good or bad deaths; others examine the ethical, social, and political implications of slow dying. Essays consider death from natural causes, suicide, and aid-in-dying (assisted suicide).
Without technical jargon, the contributors discuss necessary documents; making decisions about such things as medical interventions, palliative care, and hospice; and the roles played by family, friends, caretakers, custom, money, religion, the medical establishment, and the government. For those who yearn for some measure of control over dying, the essayists in Final Acts, from very different backgrounds, offer insight and hope.