‘I held his hand as he drank the fatal dose’: the day my husband chose to die

When Gerard began to be seriously ill, he insisted: “I don’t want to leave you with a mess to clear up.” He was dependent on frequent blood transfusions. A controversial antibiotic used to treat a serious lung infection had destroyed his mountaineer’s sense of balance. Walking, even with a crutch,…

When Medicine Is Futile

MY father would have been thrilled to read “Dying in America,” a new report by the Institute of Medicine that argues that we subject dying patients to too many treatments, denying them a peaceful death. But he would have asked what took us so long. A physician from the late 1950s to the late 1990s, my dad grew increasingly angry at how patients died in this country, too often in hospitals and connected to machines and tubes he knew would not help them.

Letting Go

Sara Thomas Monopoli was pregnant with her first child when her doctors learned that she was going to die. It started with a cough and a pain in her back. Then a chest X-ray showed that her left lung had collapsed, and her chest was filled with fluid.