Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine, University of California-San Francisco
Editorial Director, IDEO
A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death
“Next to birth, death is one of our most profound experiences,” palliative care doctor BJ Miller, MD and journalist Shoshana Berger write in A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death. “Shouldn’t we talk about it, prepare for it, use what it can teach us about how to live? This is not life interrupted; this is life.”
Most of us prefer to talk about anything other than death or, at best, talk about it euphemistically. “There is nothing wrong with you dying. But you’d never know it the way our culture talks about death,” say the authors. While dying is inevitable, only 10-20% of us die without warning — so most of us, if we choose, can prepare for it. Dr. Miller and Ms. Berger have written an excellent guide for both people with a terminal illness and caregivers. They cover topics ranging from health insurance and hospital hacks to talking to your children about your will, organ donations, and shutting down social media accounts of your loved ones.
Dr. Miller, a former New Trier High School student and one of the most well-respected and passionate doctors in the palliative care field, is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco where he practices and teaches palliative medicine. His TED Talk, “What Really Matters at the End of Life,” has been viewed more than 9 million times, and a recent New York Times Magazine profile and “Super Soul Sunday’ appearance cemented his national reputation. Dr. Miller also brings a unique patient’s perspective to his work: as a Princeton University college student, he was severely electrocuted in an accident and faced his own mortality.
Ms. Berger, the editorial director of the global design firm IDEO, brings her own perspective from her personal experience as a caregiver. Together, they bring a clear-eyed, no-nonsense tone to a complex and difficult subject, as well as the kind of compassion that comes from connecting daily with the dying.
Dr. Miller and Ms. Berger will be interviewed by Tamara Goldman Sher, Ph.D., Core Faculty in the Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy program at The Family Institute at Northwestern University.