How our lives end must no longer be a taboo subject

Any day spent in a hospital emergency department shows how the illusion that we are in control of our lives can be shattered by the laws of nature, which can catastrophically change everything, unexpectedly rendering us helpless, damaged or dead.

The suddenly-ill are rescued by modern technological interventions whenever possible; it is assumed to be in the patients' best interests to survive and recover. But the interventions may result in very little, if any, quality of life and instead only prevent "natural dying". This is a new problem, born of technological progress. Where does it leave us?

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2018, with the headline How our lives end must no longer be a taboo subject. Subscribe