Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Oliver Sacks’ Gratitude and Coping with a Good Death
Posted for Roderick Moore-
Oliver Sacks’ Gratitude is Sacks’ detailed account of his diagnosis of an inoperable forum of cancer within his liver, and his subsequent coping with his inevitable mortality. With Gratitude, Sacks touches on the concepts of living a good life, his desire to live more, and ultimately a fixation on concepts surrounding a good death. Sacks states both things that he regrets not doing, and scientific concepts whose mysteries will outlive his own life. Thus, he admits to focusing on concepts of chemistry and mathematics, which are ageless concepts, to distract himself from his up and coming demise. In an act of support to his obsession, his friends and loved ones have gotten into a habit of gifting him elements from the periodic table each year as they relate to his age. However even these kind gestures prove to slip Sacks back into despair as he begins to focus on how many elements his age won’t become due to the cancer. One of the last things to bring Sacks back from the brink of over whelming despair is ironically his family, who at one time shamed and forsook him for being a homosexual. Eventually his family came together to comfort Sacks and accept him and his partner with a compassion and understand that was completely unexpected by Sacks. In the end, his family coming together and accepting him appeared to give Sacks one last bit of comfort before his ultimate transience from this world occurs.