Book Review: Being Mortal by Atul Gwande

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5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5) – It Completes Me!

Being Mortal by Atul Gwande

There are few books that I reread.  

This was my third time reading Atul Gwande’s “Being Mortal” and each time I am reminded of the importance of having the tough conversations regarding death, both personally and professionally in my case. 

I first read this book as a young and new pastor in a rural community and it provided me the guidance and courage to go ahead and dive into these difficult conversations with folks who are approaching death and engage them and their families with compassion and care.  Over the years I have returned to this book and I continue to hear Gwande’s call for transformation with how we individually and societally understand and discuss death.

Gwande’s “Being Mortal” is an argument for a nuanced and holistic approach to death, particularly for those who see their death coming due to terminal illness or a well-lived long life.  Through the stories of his family, patients and interviews with the aging, Gwande offers insight and language for how we could reimagine our own mortality and help those we love or serve discern their wishes for the end of life.  Gwande weaves captivating narrative with medical research allowing the reader to see the humanity behind the findings.  

First published in 2014, what Gwande offers continues to ring true for those dying and those accompanying them in 2022.  The quantity of life over the quality continues to manifest itself as people wrestle decisions from their life-ending circumstances.  In my work today, hospice care now has an excellent reputation, but a stigma remains because we continue to struggle to consider how we want to live as the end nears and Gwande offers words of encouragement and insight for anyone and everyone.  

Happy Reading!
Hannah