Sunita Puri’s memoir That Good Night: Life And Medicine in the Eleventh Hour is poetic, beautiful, and insightful.
The book traces Dr. Puri’s journey into the world of palliative care. Offering a collection of wisdom stories taken from her work with the dying, she gives us a view of death as a moment of dignity and grace.
Dr. Puri is the doctor whom hospitals call when a patient enters the terminal phase of illness. Some patients are antagonistic toward her presence and despise her, thinking she is encouraging them to give up. Yet, she is actually there to give dying patients and their loved ones the strength to know when it is time to let go. It is a fine distinction to make, but she does it beautifully.
In this memoir, Puri shares spiritual and philosophical insights into the dying process. She demystifies and unfolds the process of death as a journey we must all make. In so doing, she teaches lessons about the ways to embrace life until we must release it. And in that release can come great peace.
As she writes, “For we will each age and die, as my father told me years ago. We will lose the people we love. No matter our ethnicity, place of residence, income, religion, or skin color, our human lives are united by brevity and finitude, and the certainty of loss. Just as we strive for dignity and purpose throughout our lives, well before the light fades, we can bring this same dignity and purpose to our deaths, as we each journey into our own good night.”
As we all struggle to make sense of death and dying during this long and arduous road of the pandemic, Dr. Sunita Puri’s memoir shines a light in the darkness.
That Good Night: Life And Medicine in the Eleventh Hour by Sunita Puri. Penguin Random House, March 2020.
Reviewer bio: M.G. Noles is a freelance writer. whose work appears on Medium’s The Pine Wood Review (https://medium.com/@writinglife). She also reviews books for GoodReads.com (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/118714169-mg-noles).
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