The Welcome Visitor by John Humphrys
Death is a subject modern society shies away from. Even doctors avoid the word. But if we regard death as a failure in our frantic desire to prolong life at all costs, how can we ever arrive at a humane approach to those whose lives have lost all meaning? John Humphrys asked himself this question when he watched his father's final sad, lingering, undignified years. His death, when it came at last, was a welcome end to his suffering and the anguish of those who loved him. It inspired this book. Here he takes a wider look at how our attitudes to death have changed as doctors have learned how to prolong life beyond anything that could have been imagined only a few generations ago. He and his co-author Dr Sarah Jarvis, who has 22 years experience of dealing with the dying, confront one of the great challenges facing the western world today. We live for almost twice as long as our great-grandparents but refuse to accept that longevity can sometimes be a curse as well as a blessing. Are we keeping people alive simply because we can? And what of their carers whose lives may be ruined as a result of their own sacrifice?There are of course no easy answers, but the first step must surely be to accept that death can be as welcome as it is inevitable.