Dr. BJ Miller, a hospice and palliative medicine physician, thinks deeply about how to create a dignified, graceful end of life for his patients. In his TedTalk What Really Matters at the End of Life, he talks about redesigning this most important part of life: how it is at the end.
One of the things people fear most is pain at the end of life, and fortunately, doctors can help us with the unnecessary physical suffering. But, we can also focus on what makes us feel human and connected. Miller addresses “sensuous aesthetic gratification” and speaks of how baking cookies in the kitchen of the Zen Hospice Project offers such a connection–the gratification from the sense of smell (even for those who aren’t able to eat at that point). Miller also speaks of adding a playfulness and using the imagination…living a crescendo through to the end. Perhaps the proposed redesign will help us learn to live life, not in spite of death but, because of death. I highly recommend watching this 20 minute talk by BJ Miller: