Author: Zoe Fitzgerald Carter

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 978-1-4391-4831-9

Click Here To Purchase Imperfect Endings: A Daughter's Tale of Life and Death

Pain and death are a part of life. To reject them is to reject life itself” wrote psychologist Havelock Ellis. It takes courage to face pain and death – and courage to write so transparently as does the author of this memoir. Her mother, Margaret, has spent the past twenty years battling many serious health issues including advanced Parkinson’s. She is debilitated, bedridden, has a poor quality of life and what dignity she has is fading quickly. Realistic about the quality of her future – a future of pain and complete incapacity - she is at a watershed moment: continue down the agonizing rabbit-hole of Parkinson’s disease … or take her own life.

She decides to end her life and wants her three daughters to be present when she commits suicide.

This is a powerfully passionate story with ethical undertones relating to death and dying; end-of-life care; and assisted suicide … including discussions about specific “how-to’s” and the tensions between western medicine’s focus on keeping the patient alive and an individual’s wish to die with dignity. It is also a poignantly personal story about unconditional love, family dynamics and forgiveness.

Chapters flit back and forth between the author’s youth in a dysfunctional family (alcoholic and philandering father; co-dependent mother) and the time of her mother’s dying process. The sisters, each handling the imminent death differently, disapprove of their mother’s determination to die at a time and in a manner she chooses and initially try to encourage her to ‘let nature take its course’. At the same time, they want Margaret to know that her end-of-life plans could leave them in a vulnerable and potentially prosecutorial position. But eventually, when Margaret decides not to involve any of them in the actual death-act, they do what they can to be supportive.

The author is an acute observer of responses and reactions - of herself, her sisters, her mother and the professionals who care for her mother. The angst of it all is effectively captured by a writer who can open a window to her soul and at the same time challenge readers to dialogue with themselves and loved ones about the “what if’s” of life – and death.

As western society finds more and more technological ways to extend physical life, the capacity to live life with dignity, comfort, respect will become more of an issue. This is not a book about whether assisted suicide should or should not be allowed. It is a book about a family facing the imminent death of a terminally ill parent who chooses to die with dignity.

This is an important book to read. It makes one think and ask questions: “How might I respond if someone I loved made such a decision?” … “How might I respond if I were asked to be present at the end of someone’s life?” … “What might I do if I were facing a bedridden future of intolerable pain, total incapacity and completely dependent on others?”

Such questions are best considered before one is confronted by an agonizing decision. This book offers an opportunity to do that very thing.

Click Here To Purchase Imperfect Endings: A Daughter's Tale of Life and Death