Our culture is really good at ignoring the one thing that awaits all of us: death. Not only do we remove it from sight, secluding the ill in hospitals and the elderly in retirement homes, but we banish it from conversation as though the very mention of one’s demise could somehow hasten it. Confined by this out-of-sight-out-of-mind mentality, most of us don’t come in contact with death and dying until we experience it firsthand with the loss of a loved one’s life—or even the loss of our own. By this time, however, we may lack the wherewithal, knowledge, or physical health to approach this trying yet potentially meaningful situation with care. It will be, in the most literal sense of the phrase, too late.
In this episode of Tricycle Talks, Pamela Gayle White, a Tricycle contributing editor who recently completed her residency as an interfaith chaplain at the University of Virginia (UVA) Medical Center, shatters the taboo as she speaks with four of her former colleagues at UVA about what they’ve learned from their years of working with the dying.
Dr. Leslie Blackhall, section head of palliative care at UVA Medical Center and an associate professor at the UVA School of Medicine, discusses the transformative power of talking about death; Dr. Timothy Short, a physician who specializes in hospice and palliative care and an associate professor of palliative medicine at the UVA School of Medicine, redefines what we mean by “hope” in the context of end of life care; Susan Bauer-Wu, PhD, RN, the director of the Compassionate Care Initiative at the UVA School of Nursing, talks about how to be mindfully aware during your death or that of a loved one; and Jonathan Bartels, RN, palliative liaison for UVA Hospital, explains how death can help us both rediscover and let go of our relationship to the deceased.
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