Monthly Article Archives: March 2017

Facing Our Mortality: To Lead a Meaningful LifeRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

One of the most thought-provoking books I have read during the past few years is Being Mortal by Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon on the faculty of Harvard Medical School. His observations as a physician as well as his personal experiences as his father was dying of cancer should serve to encourage all of us to reflect upon our own mortality. Gawande, in recalling his training, writes: I learned a lot of things at medical school, but mortality wasn’t one of them. Although I was given a dry, leathery corpse to dissect in my first term, that was solely a way to learn about human anatomy. Our textbooks had almost nothing on aging or frailty or dying. How the process unfolds, how people experience the end of their lives, and how it affects those around them seemed beyond the point. The way we saw it, and the way our professors saw it, the purpose of medical schooling was to teach how to save lives, not how to tend to their demise. Reading Being Mortal aroused many thoughts and emotions in me, housed in both personal and professionals experiences—the sudden loss of my brother Irwin at a young age to a terrorist

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