Let Death Be What Takes Us, Not Lack of Imagination.

In this insanely beautiful and inspiring talk by BJ Miller, Executive Director at Zen Hospice, we are invited to change the way we think about dying. With Zen Hospice’s MO being “Our mission is to help change the experience of dying”, and BJ Miller himself being a victim of a life-threatening electrical accident that took 3 of his limbs and almost his life, you can imagine the profoundly heightened sense of awareness as well as the rare, and acutely developed human perspective he has on life and on living, that he so wonderfully articulates in this 20 minute talk.

A little bit of context, he discusses Palliative Care heavily in this talk, so below, Palliative Care by definition is:

Palliative care is a multidisciplinary approach to specialised medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, physical stress, and mental stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis.

I constantly think about life and death, and while I often discuss how terrifying “dying” must be, I always mention the fact that what scares me most about death (not dying), is the possibility of merely ceasing to exist. Of course, it wouldn’t matter if that was actually the case, because once you cease to exist, you have no idea that you do. But nonetheless, the idea of no longer being able to feel/see/connect with my loved ones in any way, shape, or form, is a deeply saddening thought to me; so much of what comforts me when coping with the loss of a loved one is the notion that I can continue to communicate with them in spirituality, even if I can no longer be with them physically. So I choose to root myself in the idea that there is something after this life, for my own well-being … but this is a topic for another time.

In this talk, BJ discusses necessary suffering, and remedying unnecessary suffering. Some of the standout statements he makes are:

1. Healthcare today is centered around diseases vs. centered around humans, and that is what makes it poorly designed.
2. Healthcare should be about making life more wonderful, rather than just less horrible.
3. We can live well not in spite of death, but because of it.

I hope these 3 points are enough to compel you to take the time to watch this video from end to end, as it is truly inspiring and it moved me to tears. I also hope it motivates you to tackle life because there is so much beauty to be found once we make space for the experiences that we need to in this lifetime.

“Let death be what takes us, not lack of imagination.” – BJ MILLER

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