How We Die Author Dies at Home, Age 83

Nuland 'wasn't scared of death,' daughter says

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 5, 2014 12:16 AM CST

(Newser) – Dr. Sherwin Nuland, whose book How We Die sparked national debate over end-of-life decisions, has died from prostate cancer at his Connecticut home. The 83-year-old surgeon's award-winning 1994 book on death argued that death with dignity was rare and doctors too often tried to prolong life when further treatment was futile, the New York Times reports. "I have not seen much dignity in the process by which we die," he wrote. "The quest to achieve true dignity fails when our bodies fail."

In a 1996 interview, he said he hoped he would go "without suffering and surrounded by loved ones" when it was his time. His daughter says he often spoke to his family about his illness and impending death and while he was very much at peace most of the time, there were times of sadness and fear toward the end. "He wasn’t scared of death itself, but he loved everything about his world and the people in his world and life,” she tells the AP. "And he didn’t want to leave."

Dr. Sherwin Nuland. seen here in his study in Hamden, Conn., has died at age 83.
Dr. Sherwin Nuland. seen here in his study in Hamden, Conn., has died at age 83.   (AP Photo/Bob Child, File)
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The dignity we seek in dying must be found in the dignity with which we have lived our lives. - Dr. Sherwin Nuland

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