cover image Death Is a Day Worth Living

Death Is a Day Worth Living

Ana Claudia Quintana Arantes. Broadleaf, $26.99 (244p) ISBN 978-1-5064-8772-4

Brazilian doctor Arantes delivers profound lessons about death in her powerful English-language debut. Drawing on her experience as a palliative care physician, Arantes contends that while many “shrink from the reality of death,” it’s actually “a bridge to life” to be understood without fear. The author recalls how, when she was young, a beloved grandmother experienced phantom pain after her legs were amputated, leading the young Arantes to cut the legs off her dolls in an effort to help extinguish the suffering. This desire to provide comfort, she writes, led to her career in palliative care. In short, meditative chapters, Arantes delves into the nuances of her field of medicine; advanced directives; and the difference between end of life comfort care and euthanasia. She outlines a model of kalothanasia—“beautiful death”—that treats the end of life lived with “dignity, meaning, and value.” A chapter on mourning offers a poignant take on a hard to explain process (“Tears are made of salt water,” she writes. “Crying from that bittersweet emotion is like bathing in the sea from the inside out”). Arantes equips readers with confidence to better understand death while remaining frank about its challenges, from addressing regrets to handling issues of faith. This authoritative offering will benefit terminal patients, their families, and those in end of life care. (Mar.)