B.J. Miller’s unique approach to death and dying begins with an accident that cost him three limbs. After a party in 1990, he and a few friends scaled a parked commuter train where he was hit with 11,000 volts from an overhead power line. He suffered extensive burns and hovered close to death, waking up days after the incident with no memories of what had happened.
As Miller began the slow process of getting used to his new normal, he made the decision to view his situation as uniquely different rather than uniquely difficult. It was, he explained, “(a) variation on a theme we all deal with — to be human is really hard.” And so began his journey towards changing the way that we view death.
Having served as the executive director of San Francisco’s Zen Hospice Project, Miller found himself on a quest to “de-pathologize” death. From Oprah’s couch to his famous TED talk, he’s taken the world by storm by serving as a disruptor extraordinaire. His position allows him to challenge the status quo and explore the different ways that people view their own mortality. He explores the fear of dying (or rather, as he sees it, the fear of suffering), the dynamic relationship between patient and caregiver, and the impossible beauty that comes from some of the most ordinary experiences.
“If we love such moments ferociously, then maybe we can learn to live well — not in spite of death, but because of it. Let death be what takes us, not lack of imagination.”
Curious to learn more about Miller’s work? Here are some excellent links:
The Tim Ferriss Show- The Man Who Studied 1,000 Deaths And Learned How To Live
The New York Times- One Man’s Quest To Change The Way We Die
TED Talk- What Really Matters At The End Of Life