Our Relationship With Death

Andrew Sullivan —  May 27 2012 @ 9:19am

Michael Wolff's eighty-six-year-old mother "has not been able to walk, talk, or to address her most minimal needs" for the past year and a half. Wolff mediates on our efforts to evade death:

The traditional exits, of a sudden heart attack, of dying in one’s sleep, of unreasonably dropping dead in the street, of even a terminal illness, are now exotic ways of going. The longer you live the longer it will take to die. The better you have lived the worse you may die. The healthier you are—through careful diet, diligent exercise, and attentive medical scrutiny—the harder it is to die. Part of the advance in life expectancy is that we have technologically inhibited the ultimate event. We have fought natural causes to almost a draw. If you eliminate smokers, drinkers, other substance abusers, the obese, and the fatally ill, you are left with a rapidly growing demographic segment peculiarly resistant to death’s appointment—though far, far, far from healthy.

Dreher shares his own struggles. Katie J.M. Baker gets scared.