There are only “two” Certainties in “Life” … Birth, and Death … All the rest, is Relative.
In college, a train accident nearly took BJ Miller’s life. 11,000 volts later, this near-death experience gave him a new outlook on how to live life with the eventual certainty of death. As a physician and palliative caregiver at the Zen Hospice Project, he explained to the TED audience why we need to bring design thinking to how we care for the dying. We need to make care patient-centered, not disease-centered. To do this, we first must accept that for most people, the scariest thing about death isn’t being dead, but the suffering of dying. This distinction between necessary and unnecessary suffering can allow care to become a more generative act. At the same time, concentrating on the aesthetic realm can help elevate patients experiences. “One of the most tried and true interventions is just to bake cookies,” he says. “As long as we have our senses, even just one, we have the possibility of accessing what makes us feel human and connected.” If we commit ourselves to designing toward death in a thoughtful way — accepting its inevitability but not being limited by it — we realize, “that you can always find a shock of beauty in what you have left.”