HayasakiErika_Credit Pat Bright

In the 2010 HBO documentary about his life, Dr. Jack Kevorkian espoused what he had learned after years of helping disease-addled patients end their own lives: Once you accept death as part of life, you will no longer fear it.¬†Forget the rituals, the Christian ideas of afterlife. Death was the final chapter. The chemical reactions that kept your heart beating all this time ceased. In place of your consciousness, sweet, serene nothingness.¬†Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote often about his atheism and humanism, praised his rationale — the Cat’s Cradle author even wrote a radio play entitled, ironically, “God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian.” He shared Kevorkian’s view that understanding and accepting death could help you forge a more moral life.

In her debut book The Death Class: A Story About Life, journalist Erika Hayasaki seems to present this theory through a case study.

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