Once viewed with suspicion as a New Age indulgence or fringe religious practice, hospice is now a $14 billion a year business and arguably the most successful segment of health care in America. However, talking about death still remains taboo and socially inappropriate to discuss. Why are we constantly trying to avoid the unavoidable? In Changing the Way We Die ($16.96), Fran Smith and Sheila Himmel not only address the discomfort that surrounds death, but also suggest that there is a better way to die. Through the stories of patients, caregivers, and researchers, Smith and Himmel examine the remarkable shift in practices around dying and look at the changes ahead if profits replace a dying-well philosophy.
Of course, talking about death will not make the idea of dying any less painful or uncomfortable, but it is time that we take advantage of options that may create a more peaceful environment for ourselves or our loved ones—and not as a last resort. By sharing the stories of patients, caregivers, and their own death-related experiences, the authors change the way we perceive death and dying. Once we accept that relentlessly fighting death may sometimes cause more harm than good, we can really take advantage of the benefits that hospice care has to offer. Changing the Way We Die advocates living our lives, rather than constantly fighting against death.
Fran Smith has written for O: The Oprah Magazine, Redbook, Salon, Good Housekeeping, and many other newspapers and websites. A former John S. Knight Fellow at Stanford University and Pulitzer Prize winner, she lives in Dobbs Ferry, NY.
Sheila Himmel is a Psychology Today blogger and the coauthor of Hungry: A Mother and Daughter Fight Anorexia. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Robb Report, and M Magazine. As restaurant critic of the San Jose Mercury News, she won a James Beard Award for feature writing. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
There's a quiet revolution happening in the way we die. More than 1.5 million Americans a year die in hospice care nearly 44 percent of all deaths and a vast industry has sprung up to meet the growing demand. Once viewed as a New Age indulgence, hospice is now a $14 billion business and one of the most successful segments in health care.