Charting death

Three versions of death by Atul Gawande in his excellent and insightful book Being Mortal.

The first one considers historically how we would experience death. It plots the expected life, and death experience of a person. With life being such a sensitive gift. As he puts it “your life would putter along nicely, not a problem in the world. Then illness would strike and the bottom would drop out like a trap door”.

 
Old death wasn't a surprise

Old death wasn't a surprise

The second illiterates more recent experience of death with the introduction of drugs that can cure and halt deaths march. “Our treatments can stretch the decent out until it ends up looking less like a cliff and more like a hilly road down the mountain.”

 
Recent death was a bumpy ride

Recent death was a bumpy ride

The third illustrates the current western scenario that medicalises the progress of death to such a degree that we can’t really tell when meaningful life has ended. We can be kept alive almost indefinitely on with a variety of machines and medicines. “We reduce the blood pressure here, beat back the osteoporosis there, control this disease, track that one, replace the failed joint, valve, piston, watch the central processing unit gradually give out. The curve of life becomes a long, slow fade.”

 
Current death is medicalised

Current death is medicalised