A Good Death: Making the Most of Our Final Choices

A Good Death: Making the Most of Our Final Choicesby Sandra Martin

From the Foreword by historian Margaret MacMillan:

Sandra Martin is quite right. We don’t do dying and death well in our present age…. We have both individual and collective choices to make and we should be grateful to Martin for a clear and thoughtful guide to the recent history of dying and death in the West and to the changing attitudes and debates about how to deal with that part of life. The issues she raises range from policy ones to the moral.… Her journey has taken her from legal decisions to bedsides to assisted death clinics in Switzerland. It is both chastening and heartening to see the courage, determination, and sheer practicality with which so many of the people whose deaths she describes have faced their ends. This cannot have been an easy book to write but we should be grateful to her for taking it on. As she would say herself, we have got to stop avoiding what we find distressing. Let us hope that her advice is heard by individuals as they embark on their own journeys towards the end and equally by those who make policy. We all need to manage dying and death better than we are doing.

Advance praise for A Good Death

“A timely & deeply felt account of assisted dying: the histories, the issues.”
—Margaret Atwood via @MargaretAtwood

“Almost 25 years ago my friend Sue Rodriguez asked ‘Who owns my life?’ Sandra Martin responds with eloquence, passion and sweeping detail to this and other fundamental questions about how we live and how we die. A must read on this profoundly important topic, with no stone left unturned, no matter how painful or raw the issues.”
—Svend Robinson, NDP MP 1979-2004

“Sandra Martin has written a courageous, necessary book that provides us with naked glimpses of the messy realities and enormous challenges—medical, familial, societal, political—in providing appropriate end-of-life care, up to and including physician-assisted death. There are no bromides here. But there is a powerful, penetrating message: A good death should be considered a human right, and how we die the final choice each of us makes in life.”
—André Picard, health columnist, The Globe and Mail and author of The Gift of Death: Confronting Canada’s Tainted Blood Tragedy

A Good Death is Canada’s Being Mortal. But where Dr. Atul Gawande skirted the important issue of assisted dying, Sandra Martin lays bare the hypocrisy of a system that views death as a failure. I hope Canadians will read this book and use it to launch their own open and frank discussions about how they want to die.”
—Maureen Taylor, Physician Assistant and widow of Dr. Donald Low

“Sandra Martin, Canada’s most eloquent obituary writer, brings her exquisite insight to the inescapable challenge of our lives: How to die. Her exploration of the human finale, including eldercare, assisted suicide, and spiritual reconciliation, help demystify the inevitable and prod us to live more profoundly.”
—Paula Todd, author of A Quiet Courage: Inspiring Stories From All of Us

“Sandra Martin frankly challenges us to confront death. Through A Good Death, we learn about the people who helped shape our assisted death revolution. We are drawn deep into the complex medical, legal, and social realities of dying in Canada—and we will be the better for it.”
—Jocelyn Downie, Professor, Law and Medicine, Dalhousie University; Trudeau Fellow 2015