We have lost the ability to deal with death. Most of our friends and beloved relations will die in a busy hospital in the care of strangers, doctors and nurses they have known at best for a couple of weeks. They may not even know they are dying, victims of the kindly lie that there is still hope. They are unlikely to see even their family doctor in their final hours, robbed of their dignity and fed through a tube after a long series of excessive and hopeless medical interventions.
This is the starting point of Seamus O'Mahoney's thoughtful, moving and unforgettable book on the western way of death. Dying has never been more public, with celebrities writing detailed memoirs of their illness, but in private we have done our best to banish all thought of dying and made a good death increasingly difficult to achieve.