In Being Mortal, Atul Gawande writes that, "For human beings, life is meaningful
because it is a story.”

The essay work stimulated by Having the Last Say lends testimony to the potential and power that we all have within us to create meaningful legacies for the people in our lives. It’s all in the understanding of what makes a narrative—the elements of which are clearly laid out in the book. These two writers made the most of this writing opportunity to create “last says”
that really dug deep.


Steve, 67, has had some tough times in recent years. His wife has been battling cancer for almost a decade. During that time, Steve made a career change into the field of non-profit fundraising, and though he enjoyed his work, he also found it stressful. Weighing his options, he decided that it would make sense to retire. An active person both physically and intellectually, he has found a number of outlets for his interests, dance being one of them. In Steve’s “last say,” he uses the dance arena as a place to explore on his past, his present, and his…

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For me, working with a person on his or her “last say” is fascinating—particularly when I have known that person for many years. Such was the case with Anne, a good friend for more than two decades. As always, the process began with a series of exploratory questions. To the question, “What has been the hardest thing in my life?” Anne’s responses included “giving up cigarettes—trying, failing, trying—dealing with shame.” To the question, “When has my body and mind felt in perfect harmony?” she cited singing in choir. And to the question, “Which experiences have really pulled me out of…

7 minutes read Read the complete Last Say