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What really matters at the end of life | BJ Miller


What Really Matters at the End of Life

A short film illustrating the Ted Talk 'What really matters at the end of life' by B J Miller

BJ Miller: Death as Part of Life

Despite best intentions, today’s fractured healthcare systems largely compound our collective fear of the end of life as a time of suffering and disconnection. San Francisco’s Zen Hospice Project Senior Director, Advocate and palliative care physician BJ Miller invites us to think about and discuss the end of life through the lens of a mindful, human-centered model of care, one that embraces death not as a medical event but rather as a universally shared life experience. Having had his own near-death encounter, Miller powerfully advocates the roles of our senses, community and presence in designing a better ending.

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Grief isn’t a pathology. It’s an altered state of mind. | BJ Miller, MD

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- When it comes to moving forward, the slightly harder path — but in the long run, the way easier path — would be for us to develop the skill of grieving.

- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's theories about the five stages may be off, but she gave us a lens from which to come to understand the process of grieving.

- The fact that you grieve is a testimony to your love.

BJ Miller, MD, is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco where he practices and teaches palliative medicine. He has been profiled in The New York Times Magazine, and interviewed on Super Soul Sunday, The Tim Ferriss Show, and On Being with Krista Tippett, and has spoken at the Aspen Ideas Festival and around the world. Miller’s relationship with palliative care stems from an accident while an undergraduate at Princeton – an electric shock was nearly fatal and required the amputation of three limbs.

He is the co-author of A Beginner's Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death (

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Practical Advice for the End of Life: A Podcast with BJ Miller

This week we talk with BJ Miller, hospice and palliative care physician, public speaker, and now author with Shoshana Berger of the book A Beginner's Guide to the End.

As we note on the podcast, BJ is about as close as we get to a celebrity in Hospice and Palliative Care. His TED Talk What Really Matters at the End of Life has been viewed more than 9 million times. As we discuss on the Podcast, this has changed BJ's life, and he spends most of his working time engaged in public speaking, being the public face of the hospice and palliative care movement.

The book he and Berger wrote is filled to the brim with practical advice. I mean, nuts and bolts practical advice. Things like:

- How to clean out not only your emotional house but your physical house (turns out there are services for that!)
- Posting about your illness on social media (should you post to Facebook)
- What is the difference between a funeral home and mortuary
- Can I afford to die? How much will it cost?

We focus our discussion with BJ on his reasons for writing the book, sexuality and serious illness, and priming people to check the instincts of a medical system that favors aggressive/intensive/invasive care and crappy deaths.


What Really Matters At The End Of Life - Inspired Motivational Videos

What Really Matters At The End Of Life - Inspired Motivational Videos

One night, sophomore year of college, just back from Thanksgiving holiday, a few of my friends and I were horsing around, and we decided to climb atop a parked commuter train. It was just sitting there, with the wires that run overhead. Somehow, that seemed like a great idea at the time. We'd certainly done stupider things. I scurried up the ladder on the back, and when I stood up, the electrical current entered my arm, blew down
My father wears it now in solidarity.

That night began my formal relationship with death — my death — and it also began my long run as a patient. It's a good word. It means one who suffers. So I guess we're all patients.

My purpose today is to reach out across disciplines and invite design thinking into this big conversation. That is, to bring intention and creativity to the experience of dying. We have a monumental opportunity in front of us, before one of the few universal issues as individuals as well as a civil society: to rethink and redesign how it is we die.

So let's begin at the end. For most people, the scariest thing about death isn't being dead, it's dying, suffering. It's a key distinction. To get underneath this, it can be very helpful to tease out suffering which is necessary as it is, from suffering we can change. The former is a natural, essential part of life, part of the deal, and to this we are called to make space, adjust, grow. It can be really good to realize forces larger than ourselves. They bring proportionality, like a cosmic right-sizing. After my limbs were gone, that loss, for example, became fact, fixed — necessarily part of my life, and I learned that I could no more reject this fact than reject myself. It took me a while, but I learned it eventually. Now, another great thing about necessary suffering is that it is the very thing that unites caregiver and care receiver — human beings. This, we are finally realizing, is where healing happens. Yes, compassion — literally, as we learned yesterday — suffering together.

We can design towards it. Parts of me died early on, and that's something we can all say one way or another. I got to redesign my life around this fact, and I tell you it has been a liberation to realize you can always find a shock of beauty or meaning in what life you have left, like that snowball lasting for a perfect moment, all the while melting away. If we love such moments ferociously, then maybe we can learn to live well — not in spite of death, but because of it. Let death be what takes us, not lack of imagination.

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Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations - How to Die ( Dr. BJ Miller )

Dr. BJ Miller is a hospice and palliative care specialist who treats patients with life-altering and terminal illnesses at the University of California in San Francisco. Dr. Miller shares his revelations about a subject that is often taboo in our culture: the experience of death. He describes the moment after a person's death, and explains why it is both sacred and unknowable. While a sophomore in college, Dr. Miller suffered a devastating electrical shock throughout his body. He lost half his arm and both his legs below the knee. He talks about how this earth-shattering experience proved to be a spiritual wake-up call and how it left him with an extraordinary sense of what it means to confront death. Dr. Miller discusses why he thinks it’s time for us to rethink the idea that “death is inherently horrible.” He also reveals what he's learned about regret by experiencing “vicarious deathbed moments” in his practice. Dr. Miller’s new book, “A Beginner’s Guide to the End,” will be published in Summer 2019.

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Conversations on Compassion with Dr. BJ Miller

In this conversation, CCARE’s founder and director, Dr. James Doty, will ask Dr. BJ Miller about his life’s work and how compassion has played a role.

Dr. BJ Miller is a palliative care physician at UCSF and a leading voice reframing society’s discourse on the field of death and dying. His interests are in working across disciplines to affect broad-based culture change and in cultivating a civic model for aging and dying. He invites us to think about, and discuss, the end of our lives through the lens of a mindful, human-centered model of care, one that embraces dying not as a medical event but rather as a universally shared life experience.

Informed by his own experiences as a patient, BJ powerfully advocates the roles of our senses, community and presence in designing a better ending. He brings a unique blend of training, experience and commitment to furthering the message that suffering and dying are fundamental and intrinsic aspects of life and is widely recognized for his efforts in cultivating a larger dialogue on this full scope approach to the reality of life and death.

His TED Talk, “What Really Matters at the End of Life” has been viewed over 8 million times and his work have been the subject of multiple interviews and podcasts including Oprah Winfrey, PBS, The New York Times, The California Sunday Magazine, Krista Tippett, Tim Ferriss, and the TED Radio Hour. BJ’s practical guide for preparing for death, entitled A Beginner’s Guide to the End, co-authored with Shoshana Berger, will be released in July 2019.

Reclaiming The End Of Life As A Human Experience | Dr. BJ Miller

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BJ Miller, MD reminds us to consider the fullest view of what it means to be human - from the messy, uncomfortable issues that arise around dying to the delight of being alive in our bodies - as a path to understanding the possibilities available to open to design for the end of life experience.

What really matters at the end of life?


MRM Lecture Series Presents Dr. B. J. Miller - Chicago, May 23, 2017

On May 23, 2017, MRM Lecture Series filled the Greenhouse Theater’s MainStage for Dr. B. J. Miller’s presentation – THE POWER OF IMPOSSIBILITY: RETHINKING END-OF-LIFE CARE. What is a good death? How do you judge? In the end, what matters? Addressing questions such as these is central to the new model of end-of-life care pioneered by B. J. Miller. Featured in the New York Times article “One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die,” Miller speaks about death and dying at medical schools and professional conferences and his inspiring TED Talk ”What really matters at the end of life” which closed the 2015 TED Conference, has been watched more than five million times.


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2016 Annual Sandra Goldberg Lecture - BJ Miller, M.D.

BJ Miller, M.D. - The Civics of Dying Well

BJ Miller 1

BJ Miller, M.D., was an art history major at Princeton before a ghastly injury led to an interest in medicine. At a sold-out presentation at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, he began with reflections on Nicholas Poussin’s “Et in Arcadia ego,” explored the joy of absence, and ended with a loving nod to David Bowie. “An Evening with BJ Miller – What Really Matters,” was part of a series of cultural events associated with the Right, before I die photography exhibition that the Providence Institute for Human Caring presented at the Museum of Tolerance Aug-Sept., 2016.

#18 Strength, Ego and What Really Matters with Brandon Lilly | Onnit Podcast

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In facing death, this doctor sees a way to live well

Dr. BJ Miller does not work to heal patients, but to ensure quality of life amid advanced or serious illness. Sometimes people suggest his job is depressing, but Miller doesn’t see it that way. When people are dying it changes how they live, he says. Miller gives his Brief but Spectacular take on dying and living.

What is a Ted talks?

watch and learn many different topics ..
BJ Miller,What really matters at end of life.
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Cameron Russel,Looks arent everything,believe me im a model.
Charley Todd,The shared experiences of absuridity.
Suki Kim,This is what is like to goundercover in North Korea.
Hyeonseo Lee,My escape from North Korea

What Really Matters-Week 1/Souls Really Matter/11-8-15

My thoughts on end of life

My thoughts / rant on end of life issues, hospice care, dignity of dying.

BJ MILLER end of life

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