This article is divided into three sections. After this introduction, section II features a brief history of the narrative of death, explores the role of heroism in the death narrative, described the "miracles" of modern medicine, and analyzes some of the resulting adverse transformations wrought by the advances. The transformations include the unrealistic expectations of longevity and obsession with youthfulness, the removal of death from the personal realm, and the change in the nature of death. Section III examines the legal apparatus erected to meet the issues created by the medical advances, including the redefinition of death, and Constitutional, common law, and legislative enactments. The legislative response includes advance directives such as living wills and health care proxies. Section IV examines the reasons for the disuse of the health care proxy. Section V offers a proposal to increase the effectiveness of the health care proxy and the legal apparatus in general. Specifically, this section proposes a modification of the prevailing narrative of death to promote greater acceptance of death as a part of the life cycle.
Steven I. Friedland, The Health Care Proxy and the Narrative of Death, 10 J.L. & Health 95 (1995-1996)