The art of dying -- and living -- well

"That Good Night" by Sunita Puri
"That Good Night" by Sunita Puri
Photo courtesy of David Zaughn | cover courtesy of Penguin Random House

Even though Americans are living longer — the share of the U.S. population 65 and older has more than tripled over the last century — we are still profoundly uncomfortable with dying. In fact, the end of life is so medicalized, death is often viewed as a failure, rather than accepted as a fundamental stage of life.

Sunita Puri wants to change that. Her new book, "That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour," is a masterful memoir of helping people to die — and live — well. It chronicles her journey of becoming a palliative care doctor near the end of her medical school training after she realized medicine had little to say about patients' suffering and mortality.

"Medicine must find new language to discuss and destigmatize this experience that all of humanity shares," she writes. "Our silence and avoidance have resulted in much unnecessary anguish."

Thursday on MPR News with Kerri Miller, Puri discussed her book and what she's learned during her years in palliative care, about how we need to rethink death so we can truly live well.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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