Q

A doctor's quest for a meaningful life in the face of early death

Paul Kalanithi, author of When Breath Becomes Air, died in March 2015. His wife, Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, fulfilled his dying wish to bring his memoir to publication.
Lucy and Paul Kalanithi, with their daughter Cady. (©Suszi Lurie McFadden)

While we all know we will die one day, many of us avoid confronting that truth on a regular basis.

Paul Kalanithi was different. As a doctor, he encountered death more than most. And when the neurosurgeon learned that he had cancer, he didn't run away from what was by then inevitable. Instead, it became the focus of his memoir.

Paul died in March 2015. His wife, Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, fulfilled his dying wish to bring his memoir to publication.

Now the book, When Breath Becomes Air, is a New York Times Bestseller. Lucy Kalanithi talks to Shad today about confronting mortality and loss.

(Bria John/CBC)

Read Paul Kalanithi's 2014 New York Times column "How Long Have I Got Left?"

Read Lucy Kalanthi's column "My Marriage Didn't End When I Became a Widow."

BONUS: Read an excerpt of the bestselling book here:

WEB EXTRA

Paul and Lucy Kalanithi turned to literature to help cope in a time of dying and grief. 

It's something many of us do in times of crisis, and we're hoping to hear from the audience about their similar experiences. 

Are there lines of literature, or song lyrics, or poems that helped you in a bad time? That gave meaning or insight into what you were going through?

Let us know in the comments section, on social media (on Facebook and Twitter, @cbcradioq) or via good old-fashioned email - q@cbc.ca

We'll read your responses on the show.

We also asked a few friends of the show to reflect on this question. Here are their responses:

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(Bria John/CBC)

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(Bria John/CBC)

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(Bria John/CBC)

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