A matter of life and death

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Sharing in the digital age

In the digital age, we share so much more of our personal lives with one another than was typical or even acceptable in the past. Whether it is a direct effect of the shrinking space between us or the rise of the ever-revolutionary baby boomers (10,000 of which turn 65 every day), a major shift is occurring in how we approach the conversation around living life well to the very end. Increasingly, people are disregarding the norms of silence and the avoidance of uncomfortable conversation in favor of the catharsis and healing that comes from tactfully exposing and honoring the truth. As humans, we will inevitably die, but we do have a choice in how we structure our lives to live in the best possible way to the very end.

A different approach

In a conversation with Elizabeth Alexander, author of the memoir The Light of the World, Atul Gawande, author of Being Mortal, discusses the hundreds of interviews that he conducted for his book saying,  “In the process of talking about dying and even talking about a good death, they were really talking about living and the fact that people got to live all the way to the very end.”  Atul Gawanade is perhaps the most famous advocate for the thorough discussion of what truly matters to people as they approach the end of their lives and allowing that to be the guide in their care even when it contrasts the cultural norm of doing everything and anything to avoid danger or death. Through thoughtful and honest conversation, we can ascertain the needs and desires of ourselves and our family members which allows us to more effectively achieve the life we want and help others do the same.

For the whole conversation between Atul Gawande and Elizabeth Alexander, here is the recording from the New York Public Library.

Here is a collection of some of our favorite resources for stimulating conversation around life and death.

The Conversation Project provides free guides in several languages to help you through each step of figuring out what really matters to your loved ones in end-of-life care.

Death Over Dinner helps you plan a dinner for a variety of potential groups to gather and transform the difficult conversation into a substantial experience of insight and empowerment.

Death Cafe connects discussion groups around the world that gather to drink tea, eat cake, and discuss death.

 

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