|A cross, drawn by pouring out a water bottle, briefly marks a spot where a young man was murdered in San Francisco's Mission district.|
I should note today the passing of Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland, the author of How We Die: Reflections of Life's Final Chapter, a truly enlightening book. This is science, not mumbo jumbo. To read Dr. Nuland is to appreciate that we will die and that we have a relatively low chance of experiencing a "good death." We're human.
A couple of months back, George Johnson explored how, in the rich world, the usual causes of death are changing. More of us used to die from various manifestations of heart disease, but today's medical practice has advanced to the point that
Cancer, however, still cuts us down despite all the good efforts of the doctors; we all accumulate pre-cancerous mutations and, if we aren't run over by a truck or afflicted with Alzheimers, one of them is likely to get us.
Reading about how we die makes me wonder: are old people in our society frequently scorned and ignored simply because they remind us we're all going where they are -- unless we're unlucky enough to encounter the grim reaper before we get there? Seems likely.