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What really matters at the end of life | BJ 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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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

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.

I don't want to be a burden | BJ Miller, MD | End Well Symposium

Many individuals who enter Zen Hospice do so because they don’t want to become a burden to loved ones. BJ Miller, MD, reminds us that all of us give love, all of us care because we want to.

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We believe all people should experience the end of life in a way that matches their values and goals. End Well is a dynamic gathering of individuals committed to generating human-centered, interdisciplinary innovation for the end of life experience.

We are a diverse group of people who listen and learn from each other. Our goal is to create a cultural shift that supports new collaborations, systems, protocols, and products to foster new and existing networks of support to make the end of life more human-centered for all. Join us.

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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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What really matters at the end of life?


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.


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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.

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.

TSN Interview w/ B.J. Miller

The Trojan Sports Now interview allows you get to know the players, coaches and people behind the scenes who make up Troy University athletics. This week’s guest is B.J. Miller.

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.

What Really Matters - Book Trailer.m4v

This world is rapidly changing before our eyes as the planet and its societies enter a state of upheaval. Our old values of materialism and success can no longer sustain us through this crisis as we seek to discover what really matters for our lives. What Really Matters is a book of stories from people at the end of life to teach us how to live and where to focus our energy. These are spiritual lessons that can help us navigate troubled times, embrace our suffering and live in the present moment. Music: Rising by Kevin MacLeod Photos Courtesy of NASA, US Navy, US DOE, and numerous photographers generous enough to share their work on the public domain. Thank You!

What really matters at the end of life

What Really Matters

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Exploring the Aesthetic of Palliative Care \\ Ungerleider Palliative Care Lecture Series

Dr. BJ Miller, MD is the Executive Director of the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco and Associate Director of the Symptom Management Service at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Miller is recognized as a transformative thinker in the experience of end-of-life. He was recently featured as a 2015 TED Talk speaker in Vancouver, where he discussed reshaping death through “design thinking.” In BJ’s own words, “Let death take us, not lack of imagination.”



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