Death and Longevity


Karen Thompson-Walker: What fear can teach us

This talk was about looking at our fears in a different way. Fears have a lot of similarities with stories. We can think of ourselves as the authors and the readers of these stories and learn from them. 

Candy Chang: Before I die, I want to...

This talk was about communicating with our neighbors on a deeper level and digging a little deeper in our own thoughts. Candy created a chalkboard wall in her city that let passersby fill in the blank, "Before I die, I want to..." This idea was implemented in other countries.Takeaways: It's easy to get caught in the day to day and forget what really matters. Time and relationships are the most important things we have. Maintain perspective and remember that life is brief and tender. Thinking about death is empowering and it clarifies life. 

How to live before you die

Steve Jobs: How to live before you die

Steve Jobs shared 3 different stories to illustrate 3 different lessons: 1) Connecting the dots. Follow your curiosity and intuition. You can't connect the dots looking forward-only backward, so trust in something and believe that they will connect. 2) Love and loss. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. Find what you love. Don't settle. You'll know when you find it; it just gets better and better as the years roll on. 3) Death. Almost everything falls away in the face of death. Only what is truly important stays. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. Death is life's change agent. Your time is limited; so don't waste it living someone else's life. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. 

Judy Macdonald-Johnston: Prepare for a good end of life

This was about planning your end of life. She gave 5 practices in preparing: 1)Make a plan. (Saying we'd like to die at home or "just shoot me" are not plans.) Answer straightforward questions about where you want to be. 2)Recruit advocates. 3)Be hospital ready. 4)Choose caregivers. 5)Discuss Last Words.If we put some time into planning our end of life, we have the best chance of maintaining our quality of life. 

Billy Graham: On technology and faith

There are 3 problems technology does not solve: human evil, human suffering, and death. Christ is the hope of mankind. Allow God to give you hope for the future. God can solve the problems that technology and the world cannot solve. This talk was about preparing to meet god, and what god can do for you. (Ties into prosperous living.)

Joan Halifax: Compassion and true meaning of empathy

This talk was about compassion, what it is, and what it can do for society. It is an inherent human quality, but it needs to be nurtured. Compassion has enemies: moral outrage, fear, and pity. Our society is paralyzed by fear, so our compassion is paralyzed as well. Compassion makes us resilient, it enhances our immune system, and it enhances neural integration. If it's so good for us, why don't we train our children, healthcare providers, etc. in compassion? This reminded me of Brother Marsh's lecture on living prosperous lives. 

Peter Saul: Let's talk about dying

Peter Saul discusses how death is not discussed as much as it should be. In a survey conducted in Australia, only 1 in 100 people had a plan in place for when they died, and in 1 in 500 had a plan of what to do if they became seriously ill. In the hospital where Saul works, they started talking to families about death and what they would want to happen. Surprisingly, the families loved it, but there is a culture of not talking about death. The final takeaway is to engage more in conversations about death; talk about what will happen when your loved ones will die. 

Amanda Bennett: We need a heroic narrative for death

Amanda wants to change the perception of denial-it's really hope, and we should think more constructively about it. Hope is part of our DNA as humans, and we need to recognize its power. She also spoke about the way we handle death; we see it as weak and defeated. There doesn't seem to be a noble path to dying. She argues that we need a story of victory-a valiant battle, and graceful retreat. 

Matthew O'Reilly: "Am I dying?" The honest answer.

This talk highlights what is important at the end of your life. This emergency medical technician has found that when people know they are going to die, they generally feel peaceful, rather than frantic or terrified as portrayed in the media. He also found three themes throughout everyone who has been in this situation: need for forgiveness, need for remembrance, and knowing that their life had meaning. It reminded me of Brother Marsh's lecture of what it means to be prosperous in life. 

Alison Killing: There's a better way to die, and architecture can help

Alison Killing explores the idea that since the way we are dying is changing, where we are dying should change as well. She suggests making hospitals more beautiful and natural (for example, less fluorescent light and more natural light).