TED talks

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Below we have provided a guide to a section of talks specifically relating to palliative and end of life care which will be regularly updated.

A Rite of Passage for Later Life: We use rituals to mark the early stages of our lives, like birthdays and graduations -- but what about our later years? In this meditative talk about looking both backward and forward, Bob Stein proposes a new tradition of giving away your things (and sharing the stories behind them) as you get older, to reflect on your life so far and open the door to whatever comes next. view here

A video game to cope with grief: When Amy Green's young son was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, she made up a bedtime story for his siblings to teach them about cancer. What resulted was a video game, "That Dragon, Cancer," which takes players on a journey they can't win. In this beautiful talk about coping with loss, Green brings joy and play to tragedy. "We made a game that's hard to play," she says, "because the hardest moments of our lives change us more than any goal we could ever accomplish." view here

How Loss Helped one Artist Find Beauty in Imperfection: Painter Alyssa Monks finds beauty and inspiration in the unknown, the unpredictable and even the awful. In a poetic, intimate talk, she describes the interaction of life, paint and canvas through her development as an artist, and as a human. view here

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. view here

Stories from a home for terminally ill children: To honor and celebrate young lives cut short, Kathy Hull founded the first freestanding pediatric palliative care facility in the United States, the George Mark Children's House. Its mission: to give terminally ill children and their families a peaceful place to say goodbye. She shares stories brimming with wisdom, joy, imagination and heartbreaking loss. view here

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." view here

The Journey through Loss and Grief: In her brutally honest, ironically funny and widely read meditation on death, "You May Want to Marry My Husband," the late author and filmmaker Amy Krouse Rosenthal gave her husband Jason very public permission to move on and find happiness. A year after her death, Jason offers candid insights on the often excruciating process of moving through and with loss -- as well as some quiet wisdom for anyone else experiencing life-changing grief. View here

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. view here

What makes life worth living in the face of death:In this deeply moving talk, Lucy Kalanithi reflects on life and purpose, sharing the story of her late husband, Paul, a young neurosurgeon who turned to writing after his terminal cancer diagnosis. "Engaging in the full range of experience -- living and dying, love and loss -- is what we get to do," Kalanithi says. "Being human doesn't happen despite suffering -- it happens within it." view here

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. view here

What really matters at the end of life?: What we can do to die well: The healthcare industry in America is so focused on pathology, surgery and pharmacology -- on what doctors "do" to patients -- that it often overlooks the values of the human beings it's supposed to care for. Palliative care physician Timothy Ihrig explains the benefits of a different approach, one that fosters a patient's overall quality of life. view here

Why language matters when you are dying: Dr Mark Taubert discusses the language we use when discussing terminal illness. He gives us (often very funny) examples of the language that his patients have used, and reads to us from his famous open letter to David Bowieview here

Join Our Mailing List