End-of-Life Issues in the Literary World
A flurry of new releases, including Barbara Coombs Lee’s "Finish Strong" upcoming in audiobook, point to the growing awareness of an unacceptable status quo for dying in America.
by Sonja Aliesch
February 21, 2020
In January 2019, Compassion & Choices released Finish Strong: Putting Your Priorities First at Life’s End. Since then, Finish Strong has become a rallying call to the public to lead with their values concerning end-of-life healthcare decisions. In response to the many supporters who have asked for an audiobook version of Finish Strong, we have completed production and will be releasing soon. Audiobooks are an accessible and ever-growing way Americans enjoy reading. According to Pew Research Center, 1 in 5 Americans listen to audiobooks, and the number is rising.
The author, Compassion & Choices President Emerita/Senior Adviser Barbara Coombs Lee, agreed to record the audiobook in her own voice. “These stories, observations, impressions and insights — even songs! — are very personal to me. I wanted to share them with the intimacy of a real conversation. It is conversations, after all, that are essential to ensure a strong finish — listen and see,” she says.
“There is no more authoritative or informed individual than Barbara Coombs Lee to lead us in the battle for a peaceful and dignified end-of-life journey,” said Diane Rehm, former host and executive producer of NPR’s syndicated The Diane Rehm Show. Diane, a longtime Compassion & Choices supporter, in fact has a chapter featuring her interview with Barbara in her own just-released book, When My Time Comes.
In the book, Diane explores the issue of medical aid in dying through interviews with terminally ill patients and their families, as well as physicians, ethicists and others with varying perspectives (both supporters and opponents) on the movement. Compassion & Choices supporters will recognize many of the interviewees. In addition to Barbara, the book includes interviews with Compassion & Choices National Medical Director Dr. David Grube; two plaintiffs in our court case (Dr. Catherine Sonquist Forest – CA and Roger Kliger – MA]; several of our prominent storytellers including Dan Diaz, widow of Brittany Maynard; Stella Dawson-Klein, widow of Mary Klein; and Alexa Frasier, a Maryland storyteller, among others. When My Time Comes will also soon be released as a public television documentary of the same name, featuring the author.
Dr. Lewis M. Cohen, Maryland palliative medicine researcher, psychiatrist and friend of the movement, has also just published a new book, A Dignified Ending: Taking Control Over How We Die. In the book, Lewis explores the issue of end-of-life autonomy with candid, inspirational stories about real people, including both Barbara Coombs Lee, stalwart advocate Dan Diaz and several other Compassion & Choices advocates. Dr. Cohen participated in an event with CEO Kim Callinan, Maryland bill sponsor Senator Jeff Waldstreicher and others at which he read from the book.