u_topn picture
rub_wc picture
The Wings of Perseus

The modern-day world of the ancients.


A new Internet guide with venerable roots.

Bureaucrats with 'Tude

The IRS tries to lighten up. It's a bit of a strain.

Revolution 2.0

Esther Dyson wants to redesign the digital world -- or at least get the brainstorming started.

News You Can't Use

The art of the parody is alive and well.

A Prairie Home-Page Companion

Don't know what socks to wear? Ask Garrison Keillor.

The Witch's Voice

Coming out of the broom closet.

Chess on the Net

An online community where those with the best moves always mate.

For more, see the complete Web Citations Index.
"The End of Life"

November 12, 1997

At a time when an in-depth report on network news lasts maybe five minutes and one of the country's two most-read newspapers, USA Today, presents its stories in easily digestible tidbits, National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" is something of an anomaly. Last week ATC spent hours covering a subject that's anything but easily digestible, airing a week-long series on the emotional, medical, and legal issues surrounding terminal illness and care for the dying. The series, called "The End of Life: Exploring Death in America," will continue throughout the year, with occasional reports covering everything from boom times in the funeral-home industry to the biology "The End of Life"of suicide.

Going well beyond the broadcast program, The "End of Life" section of NPR's Web site provides resources -- made available with intelligence and sensitivity -- for those who are dying or are grieving. For those who miss the live broadcasts of the radio series, transcripts -- both in RealAudio and written form -- are available on the site. To help spur reflection on and conversation about dying, a Readings section provides both scholarly and personal looks at death in the form of dozens of whole or excerpted short stories, plays, poems, essays, and religious texts from many faiths. The Bibliography presents a long list of books and journal articles for those who might want to delve deeper into the subject.

The saddest -- and perhaps the most therapeutic -- part of the site is "Tell Your Story." Most of the personal accounts delivered here are well-written and thoughtful -- many of the writers point out that they see this as a chance to create a small memorial. Others thank NPR for addressing the difficult issues of death and dying and for providing a forum to talk about them. One message concludes that the series is "answering questions I never knew how to ask [and] filling a need I had never acknowledged, [even though I live in] Italy, where death permeates everything."

Few news programs other than "All Things Considered" would have devoted the necessary time for in-depth reporting on the large and intricate subject of death in America -- something that everyone will have to face but few wish to discuss ahead of time. And certainly no medium other than the Internet could provide such a venue for further reflection, study, and, most important, sharing of stories.

Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
Cover Atlantic Unbound The Atlantic Monthly Post & Riposte Atlantic Store Search

Click here