the new yorker logo

Hammer is dying. At seventy-nine, she has lived with cancer for thirteen years and has exhausted all available treatment options. She has spoken publicly, repeatedly, about her impending death, both as an artist reflecting on her creative life and as an activist for allowing terminally ill patients to take charge of the dying process.

Hammer is a pioneering visual artist known primarily for her films, most of which deal with lesbians, personal histories, and the body.

The wonderful thing about dying is the interesting processes. I find it fascinating as an artist and as a writer. Your ability to talk in the world is changing. And you still remember what you used to be able to do. I can’t read, but I can still listen to Florrie read to me. I can still listen to the radio. There are things that I can delight in. Just to see the changes is what I always wanted. What is it like to die? Why don’t we know? I try to take notes on it. It is harder to write now. I don’t really feel like going into so many details when pain hits hard, though I kind of feel like I should. I mean, what am I? An investigator, an archeologist.

I knew there would be hardships. There would be things I’d have to change and I couldn’t be who I was always and I had to learn how to love in ways that I hadn’t before. It’s been a long process. We both have been through cancer.

We can also think of a way to speak about this late in life: as I’m dying, you can make love to a certain degree. I can’t say all the way, but one doesn’t have to give up on sexual experience with your lover as you’re progressing through the state of dying.

Read more in New York Magazine.

This is an external article from our library

Everyone is talking about caregiving, but it can still be difficult to find meaningful information and real stories that go deep. We read (and listen to and watch and look at) the best content about caregiving and bring you a curated selection.

Have a great story about care work? Use our contact form to submit it to us so we can share it with the community!

Related Articles

Widow’s Peak

Widow’s Peak

She said she had something to tell me but that she was afraid. I reached for her trembling hand, telling her sweetly, naïvely, that it would be...

Popular categories

Finances
Burnout
After Caregiving
Housing
Relationships
Finding Meaning
Planning
Dying
Finding Support
Work
Grief

Don't see what you're looking for? Search the library

Share your thoughts

0 Comments

Share your thoughts and experiences

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join our communities

Whenever you want to talk, there’s always someone up in one of our Facebook communities.

These private Facebook groups are a space for support and encouragement — or getting it off your chest.

Join our newsletter

Thoughts on care work from Cori, our director, that hit your inbox each Monday morning (more-or-less).

There are no grand solutions, but there are countless little ways to make our lives better.

Share your insights

Caregivers have wisdom and experience to share. Researchers, product developers, and members of the media are eager to understand the nature of care work and make a difference.

We have a group specifically to connect you so we can bring about change.