Can a Conversation About Death Bring Joy?


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It's not just you—nobody wants to talk about death. Not only is it an uncomfortable topic to bring up, but also, as palliative care expert Dr. BJ Miller explains, it's nearly impossible to capture in words the range of feelings one can have about such a momentous and personal life event.

But if we don't talk about it, what are we missing out on? Can we find joy and meaning in life by having a conversation about death? In this episode, host Hillary Theakston and her guest Dr. Miller discuss the challenges and the benefits of opening up more to our loved ones about this universal experience. Topics include:

  • The emotional and spiritual benefits of addressing mortality
  • Ways one might broach the subject of death with loved ones
  • Why you probably need to turn your To Do list upside down

Dr. BJ Miller is a physician, author, and expert on end of life care, as well as the founder of the online palliative care service Mettle Health. His book A Beginner's Guide to the End is available at booksellers everywhere.

You can view BJ Miller's popular TED Talk "What really matters at the end of life" on Youtube, and follow him on Twitter at @bjmillermd.

About Clearity
Cancer Connections is produced by Clearity, which provides free support and services to people impacted by ovarian cancer. You can learn more about Clearity and the topics we've discussed today by visiting Or, feel free to email us your questions or comments at Thanks!

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