Category Terminal Illness

Being Mortal

Product DetailsBeing Mortal(Unabridged)
by Atul Gawande
Macmillan Audio
Retail Price $14.95
Amazon Price: $14.95

Book Description: 

In Being Mortal, best-selling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: How medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending. Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person’s last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.Full of eye-opening research and riveting storytelling, Being Mortal asserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end.


Wow.  This book was enlightening.  I have aging parents and have a deep interest in the topic of elder care.  I want to make sure my parents are comfortable in their old age.  I want to repay them for all they have done me as their child by making sure they die with the greatest amount of dignity possible.  This audiobook was quite an eye opener for me about what really goes on in nursing facilities and other long term care facilities and how modern medicine sometimes fail those who need it most.  The author doesn’t spend time pointing fingers, he just lays out the truth for us to see, ponder, and then apply what we can to our own lives.  His words are honest, but sometimes hard to bear, but they spur us on to help give quality of life to those we love who are aging or suffering from terminal illness, helping them to end their stories on their own terms.   While I wouldn’t say this book is uplifting, I did find it comforting as it inspired me to do right by my parents.

~Reviewed by Pat C.

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      “For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him”

    Psalm 103:11 (NIV)


    I have a friend named Amy. The first time I ever saw her, she was sitting on the top bunk in the dorm room across the hall from mine. She looked confident and smart and had a beautiful smile. Somehow, I knew we were going to be good friends.

    Amy was my room-mate during our fun-filled years at college. She stood up for me as my matron-of-honor when I married my husband. And years later, she was there for me when I found out I had breast cancer.

    What are you supposed to do when your friend has breast cancer? The only thing you can do. You love her. That is exactly what Amy did.

    One of the many ways Amy showed her love to me was by giving me a writing journal. The cover was made of brown leather and it was dotted with happy pink and yellow flowers. I loved it. You know how most people like to do fun things like riding roller coasters, traveling, or playing baseball? Well, Amy knew that what I enjoyed the most was writing. And I really wanted to write in that journal. But I couldn’t. It seemed that cancer had taken away from me the one thing that I enjoyed most – writing.

    Sometime later, I opened the journal and casually flipped through the first few pages. I was surprised to see that Amy had already written on them for me. She had copied down Bible verses. They were verses about courage and hope and comfort and love. I wondered if maybe this was something I could do.

    In the next few days and weeks and months, I continued what Amy had started. In that journal I wrote down all the Bible verses and passages that had special meaning to me as I struggled to survive cancer. Some of these verses I discovered on my own. Some of these verses were ones that other people had shared with me. I didn’t just write down the references. I wrote out the whole verse and even entire passages, word for word. There was something about seeing those words of God in my own hand-writing that made the message more meaningful to me. I could have simply highlighted all of those verses in my Bible. However, many times I felt too overwhelmed to page through the Bible in search of God’s words of comfort and strength. I needed those words to find me. Amy’s journal provided that for me in ways far beyond what she probably ever imagined.

    Every once in awhile, I still browse through the pages of that journal. Those Bible verses remind me that God is faithful, His promises are true, and that His great love for us reaches as high as the heavens.

    Not even cancer can ever take that away.


    Jill Nogales is the author of Mammograms, Mastectomies, and a Spiritual Makeover (Jebaire Publishing). As a four-year survivor, she writes a blog on life after breast cancer called A New Shade of Pink. You are welcome to visit her website at


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