End-of-life Issues

Total Recall

Emerging in the welter of advice to the absent-minded is a technique modeled on crowd-sourcing. Call it crowd recall: We can remember if we stick together.

Last Word: Carried Away

My mother was like a hermit crab who was busy moving out of its shell, and then only the shell was left. “Enjoy it, dear,” she said. She took to staring at the sky.

Burdens & Blesings

The importance of loving care for persons near the end of life is fundamental in Catholic teaching. But we've embraced a version of love without that obligation.

Letters | Anointing the Sick, a Callous Court, James Agee

Readers offer a remedy for the church's "unction dysfunction," another disturbing aspect of the Supreme Court's lethal-injection ruling, and more on James Agee.

Unction Dysfunction

According to Catholic discipline, there is only one kind of person who can offer anointing of the sick: a priest. But there aren’t enough priests to go around.

Unmarked Territory

Dying is an adult activity. This has been one of its bigger surprises for me. I find I need to leave behind the child side of myself to go where I now need to go.

Poem | Aunt Grace Wears Beautiful Clothes

Asleep, she has no idea she is old. // She’s running uphill, no lightfoot, but quite fast / past the houses and driveways of family friends / toward the higher...

Commonweal Interviews

Featuring the best of our interviews—including Woody Allen, Jorge Luis Borges, Mary Gordon, (Sister) Elizabeth McAlister, Christian Wiman, and Mario Cuomo...

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Anne Enright's new novel suggests something simple—family, for good or ill, keeps forming us even when we try to escape it—but her prose constantly surprises.

Last Word: Senioritis

Often the way our society treats "senior citizens" assumes that as bodies age, individuality decreases. But aren't whiskers and white socks a sign of unique wisdom?

Last Word: Things Fall Apart

Despite hard work, sound planning, lifestyle adjustments, and unusually well-behaved Irish genes, I find myself—to paraphrase Yeats—“where all the ladders” end.

Letters | Deciding to die in America

Continuing the debate on programs like POLST (Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment).
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