How Our Medical System Ambushes Death

Learn how we got to our current situation and  some carefully thought out ways to move toward solving the problem.

For more information about any book click on the image of the book or go to your local bookstore.

Death at the end of a long life or in a major medical crisis used to be the norm. Modern medicine is awesome at postponing death. Machines can keep you alive for days, months, and years. The books below describe in detail how our medical system ambushes death.


And a time to die book cover
…and a time to die, How American Hospitals Shape the End of Life. Sharon R. Kaufman, 2005 This books is riveting! (As in reading until 5 a.m.)  And amazingly fair. Written by a medical anthropologist who spent two years studying how death happens in the US, it is a fascinating study of how we have arrived where we are now – and what it looks like in real life.




The Best Care Possible  Book Cover
The Best Care Possible: A Physician’s Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life  Ira Byock MD 2012 Penguin Group  This is  a clear explanation of palliative care and how it can help people have better deaths.  Byock explains why the way many Americans die is a national disgrace, and caring for the coming deluge of aging and chronically ill Americans will soon pose a crisis.




Having Your Own Say  Book cover
Having Your Own Say, Getting the Right Care When It Matters the Most, Bernard J. Hammes MD (ed.) 2012

Discover how proven models put you and your loved ones wishes at the center of your care and allows you to manage an illness on your own terms with the best medical advice.





Last Rights Book cover
Last Rights: Rescuing the End of Life from the Medical System  by Stephen P. Kiernan, 2006. This book convincingly demonstrates that the way we die today of incurable long-term and slow illnesses requires a different approach to preparing for and managing death and dying. Because as a whole the medical system is not trained to help, Kiernan discusses concrete actions and resources we and our families can take to experience a gentler way of dying.




LETTING GO: What Should Medicine DO When It Can’t Save Your Life? By Atul Gawande The New Yorker August 2,2010 It is a superb treatise the difficulties the medical profession has with death.


The New Grief: Are we casualties of medicine’s war on death?    Psychotherapy Networker Magazine July/August 2011 Issue    All the major articles in this particular issue focus on the changes in dying and grieving due to modern medicine.  Excellent discussions but none of them ask IF this should be happening.



Gregory Petsko: The Coming Neurological Shift

A TED talk that charts the shift in age distribution that can be expected  in the future (4 minutes )


Bill Gates on the current spending on end-of-life care



Death, Budgets, and Generational Justice

Connie Barlow argues for allowing death to happen naturally. 31 minutes