Many Americans, it seems, have a hard time talking about death. Even doctors struggle to deal with the mortality of patients who they know aren’t going to make it.
It's difficult to know what to do for a loved one in the end stages of a terminal illness. Certainly, palliative care is often very effective, and it's the preferred approach for almost everyone who is dying in pain. But for some, palliative care isn't enough. Four states - Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington - allow a terminally ill patient to choose to end his life and ask for assistance in doing so.
When it comes to end-of-life medical decisions, Americans are divided over what they think is right: to pull out all the stops and try everything regardless of the situation, or discontinue treatment and allow someone to die if he or she chooses. A newly released survey by the Pew Research Center asked nearly 2,000 adults by telephone to weigh in on their beliefs, including the hot-button issue of physician-assisted suicide.
When the annual Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conference began in 1984, the Los Angeles Times called it "an obscure gathering of engineers, theorists and artists." But in the nearly three decades since then, TED has morphed into a series of mind-expanding showcases staged in several countries that attract scores of celebrity visionaries, ranging from physicist Steven Hawking and neurologist Oliver Sacks to former President Bill Clinton and rock stars Bono and Peter Gabriel. Better yet, the nonprofit Sapling Foundation, which stages the conferences, now makes hundreds of TED talks available on its website. (If you're not sure which ones to pick, you can even listen to playlists of TED talks selected by luminaries in various fields.)
As most of us know by now, Elizabeth Edwards died on Tuesday from terminal cancer. While her loved ones and the country mourns this best-selling author and political figure, she set an example for all of us when facing the end of her life:
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