Here are some questions for your book club to consider.
What had you heard about assisted dying before reading The Day I Die? What were you most interested to learn about it? What did you find most surprising?
In taking an anthropological approach, Hannig becomes an active participant in several assisted deaths as part of her research. What does this immersive methodology add to the book?
Of the people profiled in the book, whom did you find most relatable? What part of their story resonated with you?
The story of Joe showcases many of the complications involved in pursuing an assisted death with a neurodegenerative diagnosis. Which obstacle stood out most to you? What do you think could be done to reduce the hardships faced by people like Joe who would like to die on their own terms?
The ability to ingest the life-ending medication yourself is a critical moral and legal pillar of assisted dying laws in America. How do you interpret this requirement? Do you think it is worthwhile to keep it, even if it prevents some patients from using the law?
One of the most common arguments against assisted dying is the “slippery slope” that could result from expanded access. Do you think there’s validity to that argument? How does current legislation attempt to prevent such a scenario?
Activist John Kelly asserts that medical assistance in dying implicitly devalues the lives of people with disabilities, who must live daily with the same sorts of limitations terminally ill patients try to escape by seeking an assisted death. How can we better support Americans with disabilities? How would you address some of their concerns about assisted dying?
Patients who pursue assisted dying often confront a pervasive cultural silence around death, both inside the medical profession but also more broadly. What have you observed about this tendency to deny death in America? Are you familiar with different approaches toward human mortality, perhaps from other cultural contexts?
The American Medical Association claims that assisted dying “is fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.” How do the physicians profiled in this book reconcile their involvement in assisted deaths with their role as healers?
Families frequently serve as a vital source of support for someone’s quest for an assisted death. At the same time, the end of life can further exacerbate long-simmering family tensions. What struck you about some of the family dynamics in this book?
One positive effect of an assisted death is its potential for simplifying grief for a decedent’s loved ones. What do you think is the most complicated part of grief? How does an assisted death affect that aspect of grieving?
The Day I Die introduces a variety of personal philosophies around death and dying. Which of these philosophies spoke to you the most? Have they changed how you think about life’s final chapter?
Many organizations that advocate for assisted dying laws are currently opposed to amendments so as not to endanger the legalization process in other states. Do you think states should continue to wait to update their legislation until assisted dying is more widely accessible or revise their laws now to make them less onerous to use? What are the pros and cons of each approach?
After reading, do you think you would ever pursue an assisted death if faced with a terminal diagnosis? What would a “good death” look like to you?