This book is about death: How we approach it, how families, and those breathing their last, might deal with it. While the author has been surrounded by death for decades – in the Operating Rooms, the Intensive Care Unit, the Burn Unit, in the US, Latin America, and Africa – putting these words to “paper” was the result of the impending death of a friend and colleague, a Professor of Political Science and a fighter for social and economic justice.

The book’s rationale is to assist the family of the dying human – and perhaps the dying person themselves – as they attempt to navigate our byzantine, inefficient and, too often, inhumane health system. Included is a distillation of experience in clinical care, research, and education over 40 years of medical practice in intensive care units of large academic health centers as well as in areas of our world with resource limitations. From what to expect from your physicians and nurses, to navigating difficult family dynamics, and with real world example cases – cases that went right and those that went wrong – this book may assist you at in some of the worst times of your life.

A. Joseph Layon, MD is an intensive care physician. Trained at Grossmont College, the University of California, San Diego and UC, Davis, and specializing in internal medicine anesthesiology and critical care, he has functioned as a clinician, educator, investigator, division and department chair, Faculty Senate Chairman, Medical School Financial “fixer”, internationalist and – in what was the most difficult and painful task of all of these – as an (inadvertent) whistleblower in a compromised health system.

Present at the beginning of the three major pandemics of our era – HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and SARS-CoV-2, he presently cares for ill fellow humans with these and other critical illnesses, writes, reads, rows, and remains an activist in the struggle to make our country and world livable, and just, for all.

A. Joseph Layon, MD, FACP

Professor of Anesthesiology The University of Central Florida, College of Medicine Orlando, FL Intensivist – ICC/HCA Ocala, FL


Dr. Layon’s book was a helpful and comforting resource when our family member was sent to hospice.

    T.C. Philadelphia, PA

    Dr. Layon’s book is a thoughtful and deeply heart-felt reflection on medicine from the vantage point of end-of-life care by a physician who knows well contemporary medicine’s successes as well as problems.

      Robert D’Amico, PhD

      Emeritus Professor of Philosophy - University of Florida

      A PEOPLE’S GUIDE TO THE END OF LIFE focuses on the realities of dying. It provides clear understanding and realistic expectations to those confronting death and immersed in a bewildering healthcare system who feel confused and misled. A must read for caregivers, healthcare professionals and families.

        P.B. Langevin, MD