Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Book Recommendation


I had the absolute pleasure of being in Atul’s presence on September 6th at Harvard, a very cool environment, and an unexpected treat.

Dr. Jen off to Harvard lecture

I read Dr. Gawande’s book a couple of years ago, and I LOVED it. The way he debunks care homes, honours dying peoples, and how he really addresses death head on, is very refreshing. I typically don’t enjoy most books unless they are fiction, so for myself to love a non-fiction book is, in itself, an anomaly.

I went on a trip to Boston, a bit of a getaway to relax and catch up on non-paying work (us entrepreneurs have a lot of that!). While there, I Google “talks that are happening at Harvard” to see what’s going on. What?? Atul Gawande is speaking?? And, about his book that I actually like and actually recommend to many?? Crazy.

Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall

Here are some of the poignant remarks that Atul made in in his talk:

As a medical doctor, how do you ethically express that you are learning on people?
I was very uncomfortable with imperfection and being fallible.
Message from my Indian parents: (1) Get A’s and become a doctor; (2) Must do something for the community.
People have priorities in their life besides living longer. Goals and priorities are different person to person, and, change over time. We have to ask: What are their goals and priorities for quality of life?
Loss of alignment: what you are doing VS what they care about. Result: failure.
When religious peoples are not part of the team, that is a failure.
Not about a “good death” — about a “good life” . . . all the way along.
The average age of death in 1900 was 47. Today it is 87. Age back then was only a determinant of fortunate circumstances (I got/or didn’t get, the flu or consumption or typhoid …)
Now, we live life as if we are immortal, and our goals are: Being at peace with God, and with family and friends.
Not a burden.
ALL lives have equal worth.

In summary, I would highly recommend that you get yourself a copy of Atul Gawande’s book, Being Mortal. You will want to read it, and you will want to lend it out. As we are living in an unprecedented time of longer lives, we have our parents well-being to consider, and our own plans for our own future to consider. This book will help you with those decisions.