Why Ezekiel Emanuel hopes to die at 75 — and happily

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s brother hopes to die at 75.

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the architect of Obamacare and, according to his bio, the director of the Clinical Bioethics Department at the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the head of Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, writes in this month’s issue of The Atlantic, that he hopes he’s gone by age 75.

He admits his death wish “drives his brothers crazy,” those being Chicago’s mayor and prominent Hollywood talent agent/producer Ari Emanuel.

In the EXTENSIVE essay, Ezekiel Emanuel, age 57, makes the case for his exit strategy:

I am sure of my position. Doubtless, death is a loss. It deprives us of experiences and milestones, of time spent with our spouse and children. In short, it deprives us of all the things we value. But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic. By the time I reach 75, I will have lived a complete life. I will have loved and been loved. My children will be grown and in the midst of their own rich lives. I will have seen my grandchildren born and beginning their lives. I will have pursued my life’s projects and made whatever contributions, important or not, I am going to make. And hopefully, I will not have too many mental and physical limitations. Dying at 75 will not be a tragedy. Indeed, I plan to have my memorial service before I die. And I don’t want any crying or wailing, but a warm gathering filled with fun reminiscences, stories of my awkwardness, and celebrations of a good life.

Dr. Emanuel is totally serious and totally passionate about what he writes:

He goes on to say:

Many people, especially those sympathetic to the American immortal, will recoil and reject my view. They will think of every exception, as if these prove that the central theory is wrong. Like my friends, they will think me crazy, posturing — or worse. They might condemn me as being against the elderly. Again, let me be clear: I am not saying that those who want to live as long as possible are unethical or wrong. I am certainly not scorning or dismissing people who want to live on despite their physical and mental limitations. I’m not even trying to convince anyone I’m right. Indeed, I often advise people in this age group on how to get the best medical care available in the United States for their ailments. That is their choice, and I want to support them.

In an interview with ABC news, Emanuel further explained his thinking:

I look at the data on disability, I look at the data on Alzheimer’s disease, I look at the data on loss of creativity. And 75 seems to be the right moment where the chance of disability, physical disability, is low, you’re still not in the high Alzheimer’s risk of 30 percent or 50 percent, and creativity has sort of come to an end.

Of course the Twittersphere is weighing in:

To be clear, as Emanuel emphatically states throughout his essay, this is HIS personal preference.

What are your thoughts?

You can read the entire essay here.

Follow @MiriamDiNunzio


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