Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorDavid H.MorseMS, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media
Death. It happens 55 million times each year throughout the world and 2.3 million times annually in the United States. Of the tens of billions of people that have ever existed, everyone born before 1880 has died, and nearly everyone currently alive today will perish in this century.
Given this long, painful, and intimate familiarity with death, one might imagine that by now we would be good at it. It should have been possible to acquire along the way some sophistication and compassion in helping the dying and their survivors through this common but challenging experience. Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, we still do not know how to die well.1
Dying: Lifelines: Living Longer, Growing Frail, Taking Heart. JAMA. 2000;284(19):2525–2526. doi:10.1001/jama.284.19.2525
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