Review: The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America by Ann Neumann

Cover for The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America by Ann Neumann

Title: The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America

Author: Ann Neumann

Narrator: Suzanne Toren

Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins

3 stars out of 5
3 stars – I liked it

In The Good Death, journalist and hospice volunteer Ann Neumann examines what it means to die in the United States. She discusses end-of-life care, right to die, medical ethics, starvation deaths, and other aspects of what it could mean to die in America. 

This book was very interesting because it looks at how your wishes for death may not always happen, even if you have the paperwork to prove that is your wish. I found the discussions of how hospitals can easily ignore your wishes, especially if you end up brain dead or on incubators to live. Even if your legal guardian shows proof that you want the plug pulled, organizations and even the hospitals will use whatever means they can to prevent it, like in the Terri Schiavo case. 

I learned a lot from this book about right-to-die legislation, starvation deaths, and other legal aspects of dying. It really shows me that I need to start on a will and death care paperwork as soon as possible because you never know when an accident might happen. I do have a few issues with some of the discussions in this book. This book doesn’t really go into statistics or experiences of the BIPOC since all her in depth discussions are about cases involving white people. 

Another issue was that she discussed a confrontation she had with a disabled blogger who was against her views because he was concerned about his personal safety when it came to right-to-die legislation. They do meet and form a friendship, but her tone and discussion of this man, and other disabled people, was very ablest and at times very negative. She never seemed to understand the blogger’s concern about her views, which was disappointing considering she became friends with him.  

My last issue with this book was in Chapter 8,  she discussed meeting an inmate through hospice and that he sent her a letter about his experiences and life since their meeting. He asks her to reply but she wouldn’t respond to him. I understand that a nurse told her that inmates wouldn’t be able to get letters but she never confirms that with the actual rules of the prison. She then goes on to discuss the compassion needed for dealing with end-of-life patients but still refuses to try to write to the one prisoner who was reaching out to her. It was very jarring to see her preach about compassion but ignore someone who was reaching out for it. 

Overall, this was an interesting book but it does have its flaws. I learned a lot about end-of-life care and legislation but this is only a tiny portion of what the health care system is like. I would really love to see a follow up book, or another author, write about BIPOC experiences and disabled experiences. If this book is already written, please let me know because I would love to read it.

Goodreads | Amazon

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