Only Love Remains
Lessons from the Dying on the Meaning of Life: Euthanasia or Palliative Care?
What happens to the dying in the final days and weeks of their lives? What emotions come to the surface, and what do they want to talk about?
Attilio Stajano, a volunteer in the palliative care ward of a Brussels hospital, presents a series of deeply moving personal encounters with seriously ill patients. Those who are dying, he discovers, have much to teach the living. Their stories are all different, but they share one thing in common—when all is said and done, only love remains.
How should we respond to the challenge of death as a society and as individuals? We have an opportunity to choose patience and sensitivity, giving dignity to those reaching the end of their lives—even when those lives appear to have no further purpose. This period leading to death can be full of profound experiences, telling us much about the meaning of life and the abiding nature of love. If we see a terminally ill individual as an inconvenience, on the other hand, we forfeit the possibility of discovering unexpected resources in ourselves—undiscovered tenderness, touch, and readiness to assist.
Underlying this book is the momentous and very current debate over euthanasia. In a comprehensive appendix, the author reports on the provision of palliative care services and the laws governing euthanasia in European and English-speaking countries around the world, as well as the implications these facts have for the way we value and care for the dying.
“We find something that undermines and subverts our schemes: the sick are a resource that helps us in our search for the meaning of life.”
—Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic
“Reading this book leads to the conviction that we should not miss this experience of assisting a loved one who is close to death. We should not be afraid. We should let our hearts speak; let our intuition guide our actions. We will discover unexpected resources in ourselves: a tenderness, a touch, a readiness to assist that, perhaps, we did not even believe ourselves capable of. In brief, we will emerge from this experience more generous and more human, because on the brink of death it is love that has the last word.”
—Marie de Hennezel, author of The Warmth of the Heart Prevents Your Body from Rusting
“Simple and precise words that say fundamental things about the thoughts and affections of those who discover and present to us the meaning of the life they are leaving.”
—Tullio De Mauro, past Minister of Education, professor of linguistics, University of Rome La Sapienza
“A compelling narrative about care and people in the face of death. Written with grace and insight, this should be essential reading for anyone concerned about end of life care in the modern world.”
—David Clark, Wellcome Trust Investigator, University of Glasgow
C O N T E N T S:
Preface by Marie de Hennezel
An Old Acquaintance
They Still Have Something to Tell Us
Live the Present
The Family Doctor
Appendix: Palliative Care and End-of-Live Legislation
United States of America