A Sunday Times Bestseller
Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize
In this unprecedented book, palliative medicine pioneer Dr Kathryn Mannix explores the biggest taboo in our society and the only certainty we all share: death.
Told through a series of beautifully crafted stories taken from nearly four decades of clinical practice, her book answers the most intimate questions about the process of dying with touching honesty and humanity. She makes a compelling case for the therapeutic power of approaching death not with trepidation but with openness, clarity and understanding.
With the End in Mind is a book for us all: the grieving and bereaved, ill and healthy. Open these pages and you will find stories about people who are like you, and like people you know and love. You will meet Holly, who danced her last day away; Eric, the retired head teacher who, even with Motor Neurone Disease, gets things done; loving, tender-hearted Nelly and Joe, each living a lonely lie to save their beloved from distress; and Sylvie, 19, dying of leukaemia, sewing a cushion for her mum to hug by the fire after she has died.
These are just four of the book's thirty-odd stories of normal humans, dying normal human deaths. They show how the dying embrace living not because they are unusual or brave, but because that's what humans do. By turns touching, tragic, at times funny and always wise, they offer us illumination, models for action, and hope. Read this book and you'll be better prepared for life as well as death.
About the Author
Kathryn Mannix has spent her medical career working with people who have incurable, advanced illnesses. Starting in cancer care and changing career to become a pioneer of the new discipline of palliative medicine, she has worked in teams in hospices, hospitals and in patients' own homes to deliver palliative care, optimising quality of life even as death is approaching. Having qualified as a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist in 1993, she started the UK's (possibly the world's) first CBT clinic exclusively for palliative care patients, and devised 'CBT First Aid' training to enable palliative care colleagues to add new skills to their repertoire for helping patients.
Kathryn has worked with many thousands of dying people, and has found their ability to deal with illness and death both fascinating and inspirational. She believes that a better public awareness about what happens as we die would reduce fear and enable people to discuss their hopes and plans with the people who matter to them.
"Extraordinary and profoundly moving. Is it not often that a book commends itself because you sense quite simply that the writer is a good person, this is one such. Any reader will come away with the wish that they will be cared for at the end by someone with Mannix's imaginative sympathy and matter-of-fact generosity of perception."
Rowan Williams, New Statesman
"The stories read like fiction, from a writer well attuned to her craft. The life in each shines through and the characters practically leap off the page. It is incredibly moving, of course, but what it isn't is miserable. Yes this is a book about death, but it is also a book about joy. There aren't all that many books that change the way you see the world. This book really might. It will make you want to do a better job of loving and living. It will make you want to be kinder. And it will make you want to cherish every precious moment of your precious life."
"In the last few years, there has been a crowd of books by doctors, scientists and writers that have sought to show us different, kinder ways of ending: Atul Gawande, Oliver Sacks, Henry Marsh... the list is long. Now Kathryn Mannix joins this distinguished group. Mannix's aim is to shed a soft, clear light on a subject too often avoided. Mild, tender and conciliatory, I would like her to be my compassionate, wise doctor when I lie dying."
"Illuminating and beautiful... Mannix is good company, with a sound eye for an interesting anecdote and a sure ear for language. It's not a gloomy book. I shed a few tears but it's not gut wrenching and Mannix weaves the light and dark strands of her experience with finesse. It's essential reading for anyone who will encounter death, and that means all of us."
Cathy Rentzenbrink, The Times