TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less) which are called TED Talks. They are free to watch and access to anyone in many languages.
Death is a topic that is relevant to us all, and yet it simply isn’t pleasant to talk about. These speakers of TED Talks on death offer subtle reframes to help us face this fact of life more thoughtfully and with greater compassion.
THE BEST TED TALKS ON DEATH AND GRIEF WHICH WILL MAKE YOU RETHINK END OF LIFE
Talk about death while you are still healthy
Michelle Knox – Finance Transformation for Westpac Banking Corporation
Do you know what you want when you die? Do you know how you want to be remembered? In a candid, heartfelt talk about a subject most of us would rather not discuss, Michelle Knox asks each of us to reflect on our core values around death and share them with our loved ones, so they can make informed decisions without fear of having failed to honor our legacies. “Life would be a lot easier to live if we talked about death now,” Knox says. “We need to discuss these issues when we are fit and healthy so we can take the emotion out of it — and then we can learn not just what is important, but why it’s important.”
What really matters at the end of life
BJ Miller – Hospice and palliative medicine physician
At the end of our lives, what do we most wish for? For many, it’s simply comfort, respect, love. BJ Miller is a hospice and palliative medicine physician who thinks deeply about how to create a dignified, graceful end of life for his patients. Take the time to savor this moving talk, which asks big questions about how we think on death and honor life.
Let’s talk about dying
Peter Saul – Emergency doctor
Life that doesn’t end with death
Kelli Swazey · Anthropologist
The journey through loss and grief
Jason B. Rosenthal · Advocate, artist
In her brutally honest, ironically funny and widely read meditation on death, “You May Want to Marry My Husband,” the late author and filmmaker Amy Krouse Rosenthal gave her husband Jason very public permission to move on and find happiness. A year after her death, Jason offers candid insights on the often excruciating process of moving through and with loss — as well as some quiet wisdom for anyone else experiencing life-changing grief.
Prepare for a good end of life
Judy MacDonald Johnston – Entrepreneur
Thinking about death is frightening, but planning ahead is practical and leaves more room for peace of mind in our final days. In a solemn, thoughtful talk, Judy MacDonald Johnston shares 5 practices for planning for a good end of life.
Burial practices that nourish the planet
Caitlin Doughty – Funeral director
Here’s a question we all have to answer sooner or later: What do you want to happen to your body when you die? Funeral director Caitlin Doughty explores new ways to prepare us for inevitable mortality. In this thoughtful talk, learn more about ideas for burial that return our bodies back to the earth in an eco-friendly, humble and self-aware way.
We don’t “move on” from grief. We move forward with it.
Nora McInerny · Author, podcast host
In a talk that’s by turns heartbreaking and hilarious, writer and podcaster Nora McInerny shares her hard-earned wisdom about life and death. Her candid approach to something that will, let’s face it, affect us all, is as liberating as it is gut-wrenching. Most powerfully, she encourages us to shift how we approach grief. “A grieving person is going to laugh again and smile again,” she says. “They’re going to move forward. But that doesn’t mean that they’ve moved on.”
What makes life worth living in the face of death
Lucy Kalanithi – Caregiver
In this deeply moving talk, Lucy Kalanithi reflects on life and purpose, sharing the story of her late husband, Paul, a young neurosurgeon who turned to writing after his terminal cancer diagnosis. “Engaging in the full range of experience — living and dying, love and loss — is what we get to do,” Kalanithi says. “Being human doesn’t happen despite suffering — it happens within it.”
There’s a better way to die, and architecture can help
Alison Killing – Architect
How to live before you die
Steve Jobs · Former CEO of Apple and visionary
Steve Jobs, CEO and co-founder of Apple and Pixar, urges us to pursue our dreams and see the opportunities in life’s setbacks — including death itself.
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