Category Archives: death

By request, a husband shoots his terminally ill wife; he’s charged with manslaughter

This New York Times story raises a moral conundrum. Click on the screenshot to read it: The upshot: Lori Conners, 61 and a resident of Connecticut, was terminally ill with metastasized ovarian cancer. She also suffered from Lyme disease, which apparently conflicted with her chemotherapy regimen, making her very sick. She had been married to […]

A woman who lost her faith deals with the death of her son

This piece by Amber Scorah in today’s New York Times tore at my heart, arousing all sorts of emotions that I’d prefer would stay dormant. Fear of mortality, fear of loss, frustration at not being able to believe what might make me feel better, and so on. This is the gamut of emotions that Scorah […]

G. H. W. Bush “passed”?

Humans have many ways to circumvent the reality and finality of death. Besides all my friends who are eating kale and quinoa to stave off the Reaper as long as possible, there are simple semantic fixes. When I visited Cornwall in 2005, I noticed that many gravestones in the local cemetery preceded the date of […]

Suicide is not a “selfish” act

A fair number of people are criticizing Anthony Bourdain post mortem by claiming his act was “selfish”: the implication being that he should have thought about the people he’d leave behind (including the critics) before doing the deed. This is not only selfish on the part of the critics, who make their own feelings the […]

Thought for the day: On mental illness and assisted suicide

The suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have made me realize again how strongly the media and society regard every suicide as in some sense a failure: a failure of the deceased to get help, a failure of the caregivers to give proper help, or a failure of friends and family to notice a […]

On accepting death: scientist David Goodall ends his life at 104 through self-assisted suicide; Barbara Ehrenreich gives up on preventive medical care

As we grow older (and by “we,” I mean “I”), one’s thoughts tend naturally to turn to mortality. The comparison of your age to that of those listed in the paper’s obituaries becomes a depressing habit, one gives up beloved foods and behaviors in an effort to stay alive as long as possible, and you […]

The thoughts of dying children

These tweets, sent to me by Matthew, were collected and posted by Alastair McAlpine, who doesn’t seem to have a big internet presence. But these statements, which come from terminally ill children, are ineffably beautiful and poignant. They made me tear up hard. There is nothing sadder than a dying child, who lose their lives […]

Atheist dies, asking people not to tell her child that Mom’s in heaven

I thought for sure that the McFarland Thistle was a Scottish newspaper, but it actually comes from McFarland, Wisconsin (population 7808), and don’t ask me why. Perhaps there are many of Scottish ancestry there. At any rate, reader Gregory James called my attention to a heartbreaking but also wonderful article in the paper, “McFarland’s Heather McManamy dies; […]

How do you want to die?

I’m surprised nobody has thought of this before: collecting doctors’ wishes about how they would like to die. That collection was done by Tom Chivers, announced on Twi**er, as below, and published on BuzzFeed. Click on the screenshot below to go to the article, which is a lot better than usual pieces on that aggregator site: […]

Oliver Sacks: Still working but saying goodbye

Oliver Sacks is going to die, and that makes us (and him, of course) the unlucky ones. In February I wrote with sadness about Sacks’ announcment that he had terminal cancer, an announcment that was poignant and as full of humanity as we’ve come to expect from the man. The guy was sui generis—plagued by […]