There are ways of speaking about dying that very much annoy Peggy Jackson, an affable and rosy-cheeked hospice worker in Arlington, Va. She doesn't like the militant cast of "lost her battle with," as in, "She lost her battle with cancer." She is similarly displeased by "We have run out of options" and "There is nothing left we can do," when spoken by doctor to patient, implying as these phrases will that hospice care is not an "option" or a "thing" that can be done. She doesn't like these phrases, but she tolerates them. The one death-related phrase she will not abide, will not let into her house under any circumstance, is "cryonic preservation," by which is meant the low-temperature preservation of human beings in the hope of future resuscitation. That this will be her husband's chosen form of bodily disposition creates, as you might imagine, certain complications in the Jackson household.
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