The Day I Die: The Untold Story of Assisted Dying in America | Anita Hannig | Book Review

With my background in gerontology the idea of decline and death have been an important part of my life. I took care of individuals on Hospice, and listened whenever someone questioned why they were still alive. Occasionally, these conversations would turn to the idea of assisted death. There were alot of mixed feelings when it came to this topic, and honestly today there are even more so. Cultural anthropologist Anita Hannig delves into these questions and so much more in her new book The Day I Die: The Untold Story of Assisted Dying in America.

Reading The Day I Die was a very personal choice for me. First because of my background and second because of my personal beliefs on the subject. Death is never an easy subject to talk about, especially in a predominantly western culture like the USA. With so many preconceived ideas about death, it is a hand topic to broach. Anita Harring does a beautiful job looking at the topic and introducing the reader to a variety of people with various experiences with assisted death.

The people who are introduced are patients, family members, doctors, and volunteers all of whom are either seeking, assisting, or support an legal assisted death scenario. Assisted death is also known as dying with dignity; and is legal in ten jurisdictions; Oregon, Washington DC, Hawaii, Washington, Maine, Colorado, New Jersey, California, Vermont, and the district of Columbia. Patients who are seeing to die with dignity have been diagnosed with some form of terminal illness. They want to die on their own terms before they are in constant pain and suffering. The way that these stories are presented gives a face and a voice to those who feel they are voiceless. It creates a safe space for the more difficult discussions on death and dignity.

There is a really good look a how the current laws sometimes fail the very people they are trying to help. Time restraints, difficulty obtaining the medication, and often the ability to self inject the medications, and often the inability affect the outcome. There are some doctors and religious groups that are very much against assisted death. Yet there are also some patients who have the opportunity to take the medication after receiving it but never do. It really comes down to personal choice.

That is my belief when it comes to assisted death. The day person who can ultimately make that decision is the individual who is suffering from a terminal illness. There are several safety nets in place to make sure the person knows exactly what they are asking for. As a society you never really know how much pain someone is in due to people around them, and they should have a way to do things in a manner they would lie before the suffering gets too great. It is not a flawless system of course as demonstrating by The Day I Die but, it is something we should be investing in.

Rating: 4 Stars

*I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

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