A Good Death

Sandra Martin

A Good Death

A Good Death is timely, engaging and inspiring. In taking on our ultimate human right, award-winning journalist Sandra Martin charts the history of the right to die movement here and abroad through the personal stories of brave campaigners like Sue Rodriguez, Brittany Maynard and Gloria Taylor. Martin weighs the evidence from permissive jurisdictions such as the Netherlands, Oregon, California, Switzerland and Quebec and portrays her own intellectual and emotional journey through the tangled legal, medical, religious and political documentation concerning terminal sedation, slippery slopes, and the sanctity of life.

Modern death has become a wrenching political dilemma, one that becomes more pressing as the population ages. A Good Death confronts our fears about dying, our struggle for meaning, and our dread of being trapped by voracious medical technology in a nightmare world that has abandoned caring in pursuit of curing, no matter the cost or the suffering to patients and their families.

A Good Death asks the tough question none of us can avoid: How do we want to die? The answer will change your life-and your death. (From Patrick Crean Editions)



A decade ago I made a visit to a family friend I will call Eleanor. Frailty and a complex series of physical maladies had forced her to give up the house she had built in Prince Edward Island, after retiring from an executive position in the airline industry. She had stayed at home with 24/7 care as long as she could afford it and the system could supply her with nurses and personal care workers. Then she had moved into a nursing home in Charlottetown. Eleanor sat in her wheelchair, her hands resting in her lap, sculpted fingernails painted a familiar soft rose colour.

Much was the same as on my last visit, when she was still living in her comfortable bungalow with its stunning view over PEI's hills and dales, but much was different. Her conversation was stimulating, her mind sharp, her grooming elegant, but Eleanor was clearly bored and finding the days long and frustrating. Another resident, who was suffering from dementia, kept wandering into her room and interrupting our conversation. Eleanor was embarrassed and frustrated, but far too polite to speak sharply to the other resident or to summon a nurse. We sat in silence as we waited for the intruder to leave, only to have her reappear a few minutes later. Is this future, I wondered, warehoused in an institution waiting for my body to conclude its sorry decline?

From A Good Death by Sandra Martin ©2016. Published by HarperCollins Canada.