Thought-Provoking Book Club Questions for Being Mortal

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are you looking for book club questions for Being Mortal? What are some of the key ideas to discuss?

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande was widely praised and dubbed one of the best books of the year when it was published in 2014. It brings forth some difficult yet necessary questions about the way we approach aging and dying in the 21st century.

Here are some questions to help you reflect on the book’s key messages.

Being Mortal: Questions to Consider

In his book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, surgeon Atul Gawande considers our experience of aging and dying in modern times. In his view, the modern approach to these stages of life undermines our ability to live well up to the end—to do better, we need to accept death as a natural part of the human experience and prioritize the well-being of the dying. 

The following book club questions for Being Mortal will help you explore Gawande’s ideas by reflecting on aging and dying in the context of your life:

1) End-of-life care involves making numerous decisions. As we’ve seen, there’s value in considering what you might want in your end-of-life care while you have time to make those decisions. In this exercise, you’ll have the opportunity to begin thinking about three particular aspects of end-of-life care: where you’d prefer to die, what life-prolonging measures you’ll accept, and how your body should be handled after death. These are sensitive topics, but considering them well in advance is an invaluable exercise. 

2) In the space below, write your thoughts about where you’d prefer to spend your last days. Do you want to be at home? Would you rather be in a hospital? Somewhere else? 

3) Now, take a moment to consider what life-prolonging measures you’ll be willing to take. Do you want life support with a breathing machine? Aggressive medical treatments for as long as possible? Would you prefer only pain medications? Or no interventions at all? 

4) Finally, consider how you want your body handled after death. Would you like an in-ground burial in a casket? An above-ground burial in a mausoleum? Do you prefer a no-casket burial or cremation? Burial options will vary by location and regional regulations. 

Thought-Provoking Book Club Questions for Being Mortal

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Atul Gawande's "Being Mortal" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Being Mortal summary:

  • What it's like to age and die in the 21st century
  • Why we need to be better at accepting death
  • How to improve the well-being of the aging and dying

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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