TED's 31 days of Ideas - Day 20: What really matters at the end of life

What really matters at the end of life

By Renée Hložek

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to get up and get on and get over things. But sometimes the ability to survive troubles isn't always the thing that matters. Instead, it's the ability to absorb the suffering and be present in the moment and learn. We can't build on without knowing where we are starting from.

For me, this year has been one of beginnings, as I started a new job as a professor in Toronto. But it's also been one of endings, as I've been dealing with the physicality of a long relationship ending -- and fighting back against the notion that I'm supposed to be "over it" after six months. I'm not.

That's why palliative care physician BJ Miller's TED Talk about creating a dignified, graceful end of life for his patients, "What really matters at the end of life," continues to resonate with me. I'm trying to approach the death of a part of my life with the ideals Miller describes: respecting that something meaningful has gone while looking for the warmth that will usher in healing. For those of you who need it, I hope this talk brings you some of the same sense of healing peace.