Resuscitation science is making it ever-easier to revive people who are clinically dead. In this hour, we explore the medical, spiritual and psychological mysteries of death, and talk about planning for that final moment.
"I was very uncomfortable with death for most of my life," says Karen Reppen says she ran from death and dying for most of her life. But after she decided to face her fears head-on by getting a job in hospice, she started to see the moment of death as a source of wonder and joy.
“Advances in resuscitation science are beginning to challenge our understanding of what death really is,” says Sam Parnia. He's the director of cardiopulmonary resuscitation research at SUNY NY. Parnia says it's now possible to bring people back to life much longer after cardiac arrest than medicine had previously thought.
Psychiatrist Charles Grob is studying how psilocybin — the psychoactive component of magic mushrooms - can reduce death anxiety for end-stage cancer patients. His results, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, show that giving psilocybin to terminally ill people may help patients anxiety and depression about the end of end of life.
“Imagining a scenario in which we are dying… may be extremely useful for how you’re going to live five minutes from now,” says Steven Spiro. He'a Buddhist chaplain and advocate of conscious dying. In this interview, he talks about his Advance Directive for Conscious Dying, which helps people plan out their final days. Where would they like to die? Who do they want in the room? Who don't they want in the room? Spiro also makes the case that reckoning with our mortality long before a terminal illness can help us live and die more mindfully.
A few years ago, poet Christian Wiman picked up his pen after a three-year hiatus, when he fell in love and was diagnosed with cancer. Listen in as he reads a poem from "Every Riven Thing," the book of poems that followed.
The scientific genius Kurt Godel is on our minds this week. So Anne Strainchamps talks with the French writer, Yannick Grannec, about her novel, "The Goddess of Small Things," which is based on Godel's relationship with his wife, Adele.