This Is Assisted Dying: A Doctor’s Story of Empowering Patients at the End of Life

Stefanie Green. Scribner, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-1-98212-946-0

Physician Green chronicles in this stunning account her work in the assisted dying field after Canada passed its Medical Assistance in Dying bill in 2016. Through stories of her many patients, she reflects on her work “bringing about death” in Vancouver Island, the area in Canada with “the highest percentage of assisted death.” One woman with advanced metastatic breast cancer, for example, had eating and mobility issues as well as progressive pain, made worse by having watched her mother and two sisters die of cancer before her: “I know what’s coming next and I’d rather skip it,” she concluded. Another man declared, “I want to do it my way. I want to have my friends over... maybe even sneak a sip of a beer.” Much like her patients, Green avoids cloying sentimentality and gets straight at the heart of the matter with compassion and force: “We’re going to talk about death today, and we’re going to talk about dying... I’m going to talk about these things quite frankly,” she tells one patient. Green gives a personal voice to a contentious topic, making a memorable case that death is a “mark of our humanity.” Written with sensitivity, grace, and candor, this is not to be missed. (Mar.)