By Dr Guy Brown
I’ve just started reading this thought-provoking book.
Its author, Dr. Guy Brown, heads a research group at the University of Cambridge, UK, working on cell death in the brain, the heart and in cancer.
Chapters cover a brief history of death and damnation; the meaning of death; the fear of death; a discussion about whether we should resist death, and another on how we should die.
The chief thrust of the book is that where, just a century ago, typically people tended to die young and acute death was the norm, with improvements in health and the medical profession doing battle with death, we are all living longer. Thus, the majority of us will live for many years with a (possibly painful and disabling) degenerative disease such as heart failure, dementia or cancer. The statistic that really jumped out and hit me is that as a (nearly!) 65-year old woman now, I personally can expect to live to 85 (and extrapolated life expectancy could take that to 90 years) and could be among the two thirds of 65-year old women expected to develop MCI (a precursor to Alzheimer’s) or Alzheimer’s before they die (p.5)’.
The upside of this otherwise-gloomy news is that for me, personally, it provides further incentive to keep up my daily meditation practice, to complete unfinished business with others, to create a Living Will and attend to anything else that I might not have the mental wherewithal to do tomorrow.
In addition – as long as one doesn’t develop dementia – having a chronic terminal illness does give one more time to prepare for death.
This mightn’t sound like the kind of reading that has you instantly jumping on line to order. Myself, I’m of the mind that to be ‘forewarned is fore-armed’. And, as does anything that has me confronting my mortality, this book makes me more grateful to be alive, right now.
Buy from Amazon: The Living End: The New Sciences of Death, Ageing and Immortality