With contributions of:June Bingham, Nancy Barnes, Susan Perlstein, Sara Evans, Carol Oyster, Jean Levitan, Mimi Schwartz, Alan Pope, Mary Jumbelic, Stephen Kiernan, Kathryn Temple, Candace Gauthier, Cherylynn MacGregor, Kathryn Tucker, Philip Nitschke, Fiona Stewart, Margaret Cruikshank, Ira Byock, Marge Piercy, Natalie Hannon, and Ruthan Robson
Today most people die gradually, from incremental illnesses, rather than from the heart attacks or fast-moving diseases that killed earlier generations. Given this new reality, the essays in
Final Acts explore how we can make informed and caring end-of-life choices for ourselves and for those we loveùand what can happen without such planning.
Contributors include patients, caretakers, physicians, journalists, lawyers, social workers, educators, hospital administrators, academics, psychologists, and a poet, and among them are ethicists, religious believers, and nonbelievers. Some write moving, personal accounts of "good" or 'bad" deaths; others examine the ethical, social, and political implications of slow dying. Essays consider death from natural causes, suicide, and aid-in-dying (assisted suicide).
Writing in a style free of technical jargon, the contributors discuss documents that should be prepared (health proxy, do-not-resuscitate order, living will, power of attorney); decision-making (over medical interventions, life support, hospice and palliative care, aid-in-dying, treatment location, speaking for those who can no longer express their will); and the roles played by religion, custom, family, friends, caretakers, money, the medical establishment, and the government.
For those who yearn for some measure of control over death, the essayists in Final Acts, from very different backgrounds and with different personal and professional experiences around death and dying, offer insight and hope.
Nan Bauer-Maglin was formerly a professor of English, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY, and academic director of the CUNY Baccalaureate Program. She is the coeditor of
"Bad Girls/Good Girls": Women, Sex, and Power in the Nineties (with Donna Perry),
Women Confronting Retirement: A Nontraditional Guide, and
Cut Loose: (Mostly) Older Women on the End of Their (Mostly) Long-Term Relationships (Rutgers University Press).
Donna Perry, a professor of English, teaches literature, writing, and women's studies courses at William Paterson University. She is the editor of
Backtalk: Women Writers Speak Out and coeditor (with Nan Bauer-Maglin) of
"Bad Girls/Good Girls": Women, Sex, and Power in the Nineties (Rutgers University Press).
"Final Acts provides the reader with persuasive and enlightening views on the controversial complex issues that are illustrated in the personal stories. It is a collection of moving stories and compelling essays."
— The Gerontologist
"If there's one profound lesson to be learned from
Final Acts, it is that most of us are woefully uninformed and unprepared to make wise end-of-life choices. A good place to begin is by reading this book."
"The essays in
Final Acts offer all manner of paths, exploring a new relationship with death. Wise and gentle guides, Bauer-Maglin and Perry reveal meaning and purpose in the journey."
— Barbara Coombs Lee, President, Compassion & Choices
"An insightful, complex, and pragmatic 'how-to' guide for dying in the Western world.
Final Acts a is strong, well-composed, and balanced tool kit to help us all not only change our system to better maintain the integrity of the dying, but to enter into the end of life with confidence and control."