56 pages 1 hour read

Susan Cain

Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2022

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Part 3, Chapter 7-CodaChapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 3: “Mortality, Impermanence, and Grief”

Part 3, Chapter 7 Summary: “Should We Try to Live Forever?”

Cain begins Chapter 7 discussing her brother and his death from COVID in 2020. Cain describes her brother, who was 11 years older, as a humble man, devoted to his profession as an abdominal radiologist and equally devoted to his loved ones. He first married in his fifties and soon after, he died. Cain mentions that her father likewise died from COVID shortly after her brother. Cain pivots to a description of a RAADfest conference. She mentions some of the pseudonyms associated with the group and then uses the umbrella term “immortalists” to describe it. The group is a collection of intellectuals, scientists, and others whose mission is to find a way to overcome death. For adherents, they see death not as part of life; instead, they see this as a narrative that we tell ourselves. Cain describes a general sense of optimism that characterizes the group. She reflects that in her own view, she fears the death of others more than her own death, but recently she endured a breast cancer scare that frightened her more than she suspected it would. Among the members of the conference are scientists who are trying to bring back the wooly mammoth from extinction and another who was the first to isolate human embryonic stem cells.