What Really Matters at the End of Life

By Dan Clendenin

What Really Matters at the End of Life (2015)

This 17-minute TED Talk would make an excellent selection for an adult education forum. BJ Miller is a hospice and palliative medicine physician who works at the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco, where he has thought long and hard about what it means to die a good death. As a paraplegic, he has also thought a lot about suffering. Death is a part of life, of course, but in our culture we don’t do a very good job of thinking about it. Our health care systems and institutions are centered around disease, not around patients and helping them die well. In many ways we deny the reality of death. Miller wants to change this. He wants to bring “intention and creativity to the process of dying,” and “to create a dignified, graceful end of life for his patients.” He makes three important points based upon “design thinking” about death and dying well. His talk has garnered 13 million views. For more on this subject, see my review of the movie End Game (2018), which is a forty-minute Netflix Original movie that follows the last weeks of five terminally ill patients at the UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. The film premiered at Sundance in 2018, and was nominated for a 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject). In addition, see the book by Atul Gawande, Being Mortal; Medicine and What Matters in the End (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2014), 282pp., and the movie version of this book by PBS Frontline, also called Being Mortal.

Dan Clendenin: dan@journeywithjesus.net

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