The Third Third

What matters in the end

The surgeon-author Atul Gawande's must-read new book, Being Mortal -- Medicine and What Matters in the End, paints a grim, albeit realistic picture of old, old age, the kind modern medicine and our culture say we'll be lucky to die from, and suggests there are better ways to approach -- and live into -- it. It's inevitable and inexorable, this aging and the concomitant decline and deterioration of our cells and organs, faculties and abilities. It's depressing to contemplate, much less experience. Gawande doesn't sugarcoat it. But he suggests new ways to address and accept it as part of the human condition -- not a medical condition -- preserving the potential for meaning and purpose and a modicum of autonomy and control over how one lives and dies.

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