playlist

New ways to think about death

Death is a topic that is relevant to us all, and yet it simply isn’t pleasant to talk about. These speakers offer subtle reframes to help us face this fact of life more thoughtfully and with greater compassion.

  1. 4:39
    Alison Killing There’s a better way to die, and architecture can help

    In this short, provocative talk, architect Alison Killing looks at buildings where death and dying happen — cemeteries, hospitals, homes. The way we die is changing, and the way we build for dying ... well, maybe that should too. It's a surprisingly fascinating look at a hidden aspect of our cities, and our lives.

  2. 19:07
    BJ Miller What really matters at the end of life

    At the end of our lives, what do we most wish for? For many, it's simply comfort, respect, love. BJ Miller is a hospice and palliative medicine physician who thinks deeply about how to create a dignified, graceful end of life for his patients. Take the time to savor this moving talk, which asks big questions about how we think on death and honor life.

  3. 13:54
    Kelli Swazey Life that doesn't end with death

    In Tana Toraja, weddings and births aren't the social gatherings that knit society together. In this part of Indonesia, big, raucous funerals are at the center of social life. Anthropologist Kelli Swazey takes a look at this culture, in which the bodies of dead relatives are cared for years after they have passed away — because relationships with loved ones don't simply end when breathing does.

  4. 6:20
    Candy Chang Before I die I want to ...

    In her New Orleans neighborhood, artist and TED Fellow Candy Chang turned an abandoned house into a giant chalkboard asking a fill-in-the-blank question: "Before I die I want to ___." Her neighbors' answers — surprising, poignant, funny — became an unexpected mirror for the community. (What's your answer?)

  5. 13:19
    Peter Saul Let's talk about dying

    We can't control if we'll die, but we can "occupy death," in the words of Peter Saul, an emergency doctor. He asks us to think about the end of our lives — and to question the modern model of slow, intubated death in hospital. Two big questions can help you start this tough conversation.

  6. 5:33
    Matthew O'Reilly “Am I dying?” The honest answer.

    Matthew O’Reilly is a veteran emergency medical technician on Long Island, New York. In this talk, O’Reilly describes what happens next when a gravely hurt patient asks him: “Am I going to die?”

  7. 15:24
    Amanda Bennett We need a heroic narrative for death

    Amanda Bennett and her husband were passionate and full of life all throughout their lives together — and up until the final days, too. Bennett gives a sweet yet powerful talk on why, for the loved ones of the dying, having hope for a happy ending shouldn't warrant a diagnosis of "denial." She calls for a more heroic narrative for death — to match the ones we have in life.

  8. 15:33
    Stephen Cave The 4 stories we tell ourselves about death

    Philosopher Stephen Cave begins with a dark but compelling question: When did you first realize you were going to die? And even more interesting: Why do we humans so often resist the inevitability of death? Cave explores four narratives — common across civilizations — that we tell ourselves "in order to help us manage the terror of death."

  9. 6:03
    Judy MacDonald Johnston Prepare for a good end of life

    Thinking about death is frightening, but planning ahead is practical and leaves more room for peace of mind in our final days. In a solemn, thoughtful talk, Judy MacDonald Johnston shares 5 practices for planning for a good end of life.

  10. 7:30
    Jae Rhim Lee My mushroom burial suit

    Here's a powerful provocation from artist Jae Rhim Lee. Can we commit our bodies to a cleaner, greener Earth, even after death? Naturally — using a special burial suit seeded with pollution-gobbling mushrooms. Yes, this just might be the strangest TEDTalk you'll ever see ...