“Engaging in the full range of experience – living and dying, love and loss – is what we get to do. Being human doesn’t happen despite suffering — it happens within it.” – Dr Lucy Kalanithi
any people expect that having a terminal illness would shut down any, and all, reasons to plan – let alone live. Dr Lucy Kalanithi’s deeply moving and honest TED talk, reflects on life and purpose, whilst sharing the story of her late husband, Paul, a young neurosurgeon. Their journey during the last months of his life, though difficult, was an unflinching look at how, “Saying things out loud,” gave them clarity and an opportunity to plan their choices and expand their lives in the time he had left.
By approaching this difficult and painful subject together they could choose, “Not to hide from suffering, because we’re not here to fight fate, but to help each other through, not like soldiers, but shepherds,” Dr Kalanthi says, “Engaging in the full range of experience – living and dying, love and loss – is what we get to do. Being human doesn’t happen despite suffering — it happens within it.”
We feel privileged to share such a powerful piece on moving through difficult times and that having tough conversations about what we want at the end of our lives, helps those around us more than silence ever could.
This TED talk first aired at TEDMED 2016, Palm Springs, California on 30 November 2016.
Dr Lucy Kalanithi is a Caregiver, dedicated to helping others choose the health care and end-of-life experiences that best align with their values. A Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Stanford School of Medicine, Dr. Kalanithi completed her medical degree at Yale, where she was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society, her internal medicine residency at the University of California-San Francisco, and a postdoctoral fellowship training in healthcare delivery innovation at Stanford’s Clinical Excellence Research Center. At the cross-section of experiences as a physician and a caregiver, she has interests in healthcare value, meaning in medicine, patient-centered care and end-of-life care. Dr. Kalanithi is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and an honoree of Mass General Cancer Center’s the one hundred. She was a speaker at TEDMED in 2016 and has appeared on NPR, PBS Newshour, Yahoo News with Katie Couric, The New York Times, Elle and Charlie Rose. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her daughter, Elizabeth Acadia.