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In order for folks to have a good death, we must honor the totality of their lived experience.

Alua Arthur Founder and Death Doula, Going with Grace
Aspen Ideas To Go

Can You Design a Good Death?

Can You Design a Good Death?

Show Notes

Death is understandably difficult – and for some people, nearly impossible – to conceive of and talk about. Especially our own. It may seem like there’s nothing we can do to prepare for our last moments on earth, but several innovative panelists at the 2023 Aspen Ideas Festival would disagree. Alua Arthur is a “death doula,” who helps people find peace with themselves when nearing the end of their life. A former lawyer, she founded the organization Going With Grace to help redefine the end-of-life experience. Dan Diaz was thrust into advocacy when his wife, Brittany Maynard, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2014 at age 29. Maynard wanted control over how she died, and the couple moved to Oregon for the last months of her life, where medical aid in dying was legal. Diaz has been pushing to expand legalization of medical aid in dying ever since, and has helped pass legislation in several states since Brittany’s death. Designer Katrina Spade invented a way to turn humans into compost after life, and founded the company Recompose. Human composting is now legal in five states, thanks to efforts led by Recompose. Stanford medical professor and health care culture advocate Dr. Lucy Kalanithi moderates the conversation. Kalanithi’s husband Paul Kalanithi died of cancer in 2015, after writing the memoir “When Breath Becomes Air.”


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