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Public Radio International

Death: A Five-Part Series

Part Three

The Last Moment

Resuscitation science is revolutionizing medical care and reviving people who are clinically dead. With proper care, people who suffer heart attacks and lose brain function - even for two hours - can be brought back to life with no brain damage. What has that revealed about the the medical, spiritual and psychological mysteries of death?

We'll hear conflicting perspectives on the debate over near-death experiences. Do these extraordinary experiences reveal a transcendent reality, or are they simply the biochemical product of a brain that’s shutting down? Tune in for conversations about "conscious death," and how people are reclaiming the final moments of their lives.

 
Segment 1: Being with Death

"I was very uncomfortable with death for most of my life," says Karen Reppen. 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.

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Segment 2: "Death Doesn't Bother Me, Anyway" Pt. 3

In the third installment of the story of the end of Dan Pierotti's life, his wife Judy talks about Dan's last days, and final moment.

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Segment 3: Blurring the Line Between Life and Death

"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.

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Segment 4: Can Science Explain Near-Death Experiences?

Scientists believe that near-death experiences are real, but there is much debate why they occur and what they might mean. Here's a quick primer on some of the leading thinkers in the field.

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Segment 5: Can Hallucinogens Help with End-of-Life Anxiety?

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.

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Segment 6: Mindful Dying

"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.

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Segment 7: Christian Wiman Reads "For D."

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.

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Print
Death: A Five-Part Series
Death: A Five-Part Series
The Reckoning
November 9, 2014
 
Exit Plan
November 16, 2014
 
The Last Moment
November 23, 2014
 
The Wake
November 30, 2014
 
After Life
December 7, 2014

WITH SUPPORT FROM

The Nour Foundation: Exploring Meaning & Commonality in Human Experience
Promega Corporation