Most of us say we want to die at home, comforted by friends and family. However, research shows more than two thirds of us take our last breaths in sterile hospital rooms to the soundtrack of beeping monitors, or in institutions like nursing homes that often feel cold and unfamiliar.
In The Art of Dying Well, Katy Butler seeks to restore an element of the sacred to the process of dying, and provides the tools to navigate a modern medical system that is inadequately designed to meet the needs of the elderly and patients managing prolonged illnesses.
This crucial guide prepares readers for seven phases of late life, from vigorous old age to the final breath. Filled with life-affirming and relatable anecdotes, each chapter addresses a specific stage: Resilience, Slowing Down, Adaptation, Awareness of Mortality, House of Cards, Preparing for a Good Death, and Active Dying.
In the opening chapters, Butler provides the checklist those in their 50s and 60s should consider: building physical, social, and spiritual reserves, finding a medical advocate, and signing advance directives while discussing with friends and family what a “good death” means. There’s practical advice about how to enroll in an HMO or Medicare Advantage plan, schedule a medication review, plan financially for disability, and find caregivers.
In the chapter Awareness of Mortality, Butler suggests pausing before making major medical decisions when faced with a terminal diagnosis, and offers a comprehensive list of questions to ask doctors. Returning to geriatric care, the chapter House of Cards cautions against medical overtreatment, advises on the details of home-based care, and reassures readers intimidated by paperwork.
The final chapters describe how to arrange hospice care, illuminate the five emotional tasks of dying, and lay the groundwork for ensuring the most peaceful passing possible.
The author of the New York Times bestseller Knocking on Heaven’s Door, 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.
If you're unable to attend the event and would like a signed copy of The Art of Dying Well, please purchase the "Signed" version below.