• Laura Owens

Dr. B.J. Miller: …that independence doesn’t really exist

Nobody Told Me! – Dr. B.J. Miller: …that independence doesn’t really exist


Hosts Jan Black and Laura Owens interview Dr. B.J. Miller, a longtime hospice and palliative medicine physician whose TED Talk on what matters most at the end of life has been viewed more than 11 million times. He is the founder and president of a groundbreaking new organization called Mettle Health, which provides personalized consultations with patients and caregivers who need help dealing with the practical, emotional, and existential issues of severe illness and disability.

  • [1:31] – Dr. Miller speaks about his new organization, Mettle Health. This organization is online where you can get extra support about approaching treatment decisions, communicating with family and doctors, and supplying resources towards illness and care.

  • [2:30] – Mettle Health organization’s name came from the word ‘mettle.’ When someone finds their mettle, they find their strengths.

  • [3:31] – Dr. Miller speaks about people being confronted with their mortality due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • [5:07] – Dr. Miller talks to those parents who are trying to explain the mortal danger of the Coronavirus to young children and even those who are college-aged. Typically, just listing facts don’t work, but speaking plainly is the best approach.

  • [9:38] – Dr. Miller had a severe accident in his past, which was his existential crisis. He speaks about his lessons learned and how those lessons developed his life.

  • [11:39] – Dr. Miller speaks about how no one knows about death. No one can imagine an existence without ourselves in it.

  • [13:20] – Dr. Miller talks about the spread of COVID-19 and how people learn that personal presence is so significant, and we address death in our lives. Unfortunately, even without COVID-19, families find ways of avoiding the subject.

  • [15:19] – Dr. Miller addresses relationships for those who are dying or have a loved one who is dying. If you cannot be personally present, there are options such as video messaging, letter writing, and phone calls. For those who are unable to connect, it is an opportunity to reflect on the relationship inwards.

  • [20:00] – Dr. Miller talks about how we, as a society, avoid death and being close to those who are dying. We are removed from that aspect of our lives, and most of us are unpracticed in dealing with death.

  • [23:45] – Dr. Miller speaks about advanced care planning and advanced care directives. An advanced directive is rough guidelines, and they can be revisited at any time.

  • [27:39] – Dr. Miller addresses how people can find joy when you or a loved one are nearing death. Death can provide a foil for joy and see happiness in humanity and the world around us.

  • [29:41] – Dr. Miller observes that most of us are cycling through emotions of gratitude, depression, and anxiety as we experience the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • [31:13] – Dr. Miller sees that once we are out of the COVID-19 crisis, we may forget the pain and trials we are going through. We need to adapt and change from life and the COVID-19 crisis.

  • [33:38] – Nobody Told Me! For Dr. Miller, nobody told him that independence doesn’t really exist. We always need each other; it is just a matter of degree.

  • [34:42] – Dr. B.J. Miller’s contact information

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