What really matters at the end of our life?

In this moving talk, BJMiller, physician and palliative care specialist discusses what really matters to patients facing their last days, weeks and months.

In this talk he explains that the biggest fear of someone coming to the end of their life, isn’t actually the end, but it’s the suffering they will go through. His aim of this talk is to bring design thinking into this important conversation, to bring intention and creativity into the experience of dying so that the patient is prepared for each of the next stages of the dying process and that they retain their dignity throughout.

He splits suffering into two types, necessary suffering – the suffering that, as part of the patient’s medical condition is unavoidable, and unnecessary suffering, a result of the current systems in place, that as they have been invented, we should be able to re-invent and improve upon.

3 Cues for improvement

1. Removal of unnecessary suffering
2. Nurturing dignity through the way of the senses
3. Lifting our sights on well-being, making healthcare more wonderful rather than less horrible

BJ Miller lost 3 limbs during an accident early on in his life and having received months of palliative care for his life changing injuries and now as a palliative care physician and hospice worked he is one of the few who can contribute personal experience to all sides of this discussion. I will leave you with my favourite quote of his talk as it’s both rather beautiful but at the same time immensely practical.

“Consider every major compulsory effort it takes to be human. The need for food has birthed cuisine. The need for shelter has given rise to architecture. The need for cover, fashion. And for being subjected to the clock, well, we invented music. So, since dying is a necessary part of life, what might we create with this fact?”

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