Dr. Paul Kalanithi's spectacular writing is the vehicle for sharing his clear and useful insights on facing death.
After the release of Kalanathi's best-selling book, When Breath Becomes Air, a NYTimes interview with his widow, internist Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, sheds light on the role writing the book played in their shared experience with his dying and her experience with moving on.
“He’s not afraid of dying, and I’m not afraid to see him die.” He was interested in death as a philosophical problem. We both entered medicine to grapple with big questions and how people make sense of their lives and deaths. But then suddenly it’s like — now it’s on us. It was super intense and super hard. It took everything we had to cope, but it was also like we could ultimately find meaning, which was amazing. That was because he could write this book. I think there would have been more existential suffering if he didn’t have a purpose.
Key factors in the ability of the Drs. Kalanithi to face his death as Healthy Survivors included their...
- Knowing the facts of his disease, including the statistics regarding recovery
- Accepting those facts
- Calming their fears
- Finding meaning
Dr. Kalanithi was a Healthy Survivor.To be diagnosed during his sixth year of neurosurgical training made it both more difficult and easier to accept his fate and embrace the challenge of how to live as fully as possible until he died, as I'll discuss in future posts.