Keeping vigil over the dying is an essential human practice with long cultural traditions and profound psychological benefits. Yet, as legal scholar Louise Harmon shows, the institutions of modern life-from hospitals to courtrooms-intrude on the practice. In this humane and lyrical book, Harmon looks at literature, philosophy, history, and autobiography as she delicately probes the taboos around discussion of death. She asks whether the law can recognize the needs of families and loved ones and protect the space of their grieving.
About the Author
Louise Harmon is professor of law at Touro College, Huntington, New York, and coauthor with Deborah Ward Post of Cultivating Intelligence: Power, Law, and the Politics of Teaching. She lives in Huntington, New York.
Praise for Fragments on the Deathwatch…
Louise Harmon drew this reader closer to the mystery of death than he thought he wanted to go. But once there, with Harmon, he was grateful. --James Carroll, author of An American Requiem
"If anyone you love is close to death you owe it to them and to yourself to read this book." --Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals
"[Harmon is] correct to affirm that anyone's death belongs to both the dying and to those who survive to grieve and that the law must address the rights of each." -Thomas Lynch, The New York Times Book Review
"What an elegant, passionate, moving meditation! Harmon is part philosopher, part poet, a combination that is sure to make this unique book an enduring classic." --Patricia Williams, author of The Rooster's Egg