To completely re-write the original quote that Benjamin Franklin made; there are three things that are certain in life; taxes, your computer crashing and death. The final of these inevitable events will happen to every single person on this planet at some point in the future. Even though it is one thing common to all life, it has reached the point where it is seen now as a taboo, something that we deliberately choose to ignore or rarely talk about when pushed. Death though is something that Dr Kathryn Mannix has faced throughout her career, and this book, With the End in Mind, is a collection of stories of the last moment of people from all walks of society.
Probably the most poignant stories are those about the children and teenagers who have barely got started at life before it is tragically taken away from them. She talks to patients that have rooms full of their family, dealing with the anger and unfairness of it all, we learn about a young man who does not have long to live, but was still considering suicide as he is so despondent that he will never leave a legacy, but he is one of the first in the country to carry a plan detailing what should happen should he become ill. The media attention raised awareness and they saw a huge rise in others wanting to do the same thing. People react to their terminal illnesses differently. One of her patients was a mother who still feels that she needs to keep up her glamorous appearance, but pouring herself into tight jeans was not helping with the pain; a few subtle changes helped immensely and allowed to be comfortable in the final days. Some of the hardest cases are those that have one close loved one who are not sure how they will cope alone.
It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it’s called Life. ― Terry Pratchett
All of the stories in this book are sad; people grieving the loss of their loved ones, but in amongst the tears there are moments of comfort and illumination on how to deal with death, all coupled together with the calm and considered advice from Mannix. What she is a big advocate of is communication, telling people what is wrong with you, getting them to ask sensitive questions, finding out if people want to be at home for their last moments, or have no real preference. There is a Pause for Thought moment at the end of each chapter where there are suggestions and practical details are discussed. This book is not going to be for everyone given the subject matter, but it is a step in the right direction to seeing death as an intrinsic part of life and coping with it in the best way for you. Can highly recommend this moving book and I think it should be essential reading for anyone who has any concerns about death