Death Gone Wrong

November 14, 2013

From  the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, 2-4 November 2013:

While birth and marriage are discussed and dissected to the point of fetishisation, the final, inevitable life event gets much less airtime. We just try to avoid it for as long as possible.

As our societies take us further and further away from the physical reality of death, a lucky majority haven’t even seen a dead body or had a loved one die until we are well into adulthood. But with this death taboo harder and harder to break, we have given away our right to a good death.

While we want to die peacefully at home, surrounded by those we love, we die in hospitals alone, tethered to the machines of heroic medicine. And as our health systems groan under rising costs, preventive medicine is sacrificed to end of life interventions that only prolong the inevitable and could be seen as torture if applied to any but the dying.

Even if it seems too late to fix death gone wrong, we owe it to our future selves to try. At the recent Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House, cardiologist Dr David Celermajer, intensive care specialist Dr Peter Saul, and The End author Bianca Nogrady do their best to dissect death in the modern era, work out what’s wrong, and how to set it right. Watch it here.

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At 2013 Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Dr David Celermajer, Dr Peter Saul and The End author Bianca Nogrady dissected, diagnosed and debated death in an attempt to work out where we went wrong with death and how we might be able to fix it. Watch it here.

Death: what are your choices

Death is a lot like birth. Sometimes it's a peaceful, even beautiful event that goes according to plan. Sometimes it's a horrible bloody mess that is utterly beyond all control. Most of the time, it's a bit of both. We have this idea that death is something that just happens to us. It's true, you will, at some point, die, and that is not subject to negotiation with any earthly power. But that doesn't mean that we are powerless in the face of death. Some of us can actually have a lot of say in the kind of death we have. Read more.