This Intimate Look at a Woman's Last Days Will Touch Your Soul

March 16, 2016 - At the age of 89, Phyllis B. Andrews died at home, surrounded by her loved ones. National Geographic photographer Lynn Johnson shares the intimate moments between the dying woman and her family in the final days of Andrews's life.

As a friend of Andrews's daughter Nancy, Johnson was able to photograph and record the last week of Andrews's life and even her final breath. Her health rapidly declining, Andrews spoke about death and aging as her daughter came to terms with saying goodbye. Theirs is a story like so many others, where the child, now caring for a dying mother or father, takes the role of the parent. This is how one woman and her family moved through that time.

In the April 2016 issue of National Geographic magazine, the feature story "Crossing Over" explores how advances in medical technology have changed the very meaning of death. In our modern world, where technology is king, the difference between life and death is no longer black and white. If you die, you can be successfully resuscitated or kept alive with machinery that pumps your heart for you. You can even choose to have your body or head cryogenically frozen in the hopes that you could one day be brought back to life. But what of the people who view death in a more traditional way? What about those who are old, ill, and in pain but ready and unafraid to die? Lynn Johnson relates the story of Phyllis Andrews, an elderly woman who refused further medical treatment for her heart disease and chose to die at home, in the company of her family and friends, with as little pain as possible.

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