To the Best of Our Knowledge
Public Radio International

A Five-Part Series

Across the country – in cafés, dining rooms, and com-munity centers – there's a new conversation taking shape. After decades of sanitizing and sequestering death and dying, America seems to be ready to talk about death. For the next five weeks, we'll be exploring how to start conversations about death with your family, your doctors, and yourself. We'll also take a look at the phenomenon of near-death experience, learn about the conscious death movement, consider how we die and grieve around the world, and much more.


The Reckoning

November 9, 2014

Did you hear? There's a death movement going on in America. After decades of sanitized death, with dying, funerals, burial and grief shielded from public view, some people are now working to make death a greater part of life. In this hour, we talk with experts about how to begin these difficult conversations, and how they can transform both the dying and the surviving.



Exit Plan

November 16, 2014

We live much longer than we used to, thanks to medical advances, but what are the emotional and financial costs of extending the end of life?

In this hour, we talk with physicians and bio-ethicists about planning for more humane and less prolonged deaths, about how some doctors don't know how to talk with their patients about preparing for death, and about one family's story of working within Oregon's "Death with Dignity" law. Tune if for a discussion of “a good death” and the story of a pioneering psychiatrist who's using hallucinogens to ease the anxiety of terminally-ill cancer patients.



The Last Moment

November 23, 2014

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.



The Wake

November 30, 2014

What does it mean to grieve well? "Griefwalker" Stephen Jenkinson says that many cultures have "deep and skilled practitioners of grief." In this hour, explore the pain and healing power of grief, and learn about burial and mourning rituals throughout history.

We'll also hear poignant personal stories from people whose jobs bring them into daily contact with death, from a woman who worked for nine years in an inner-city funeral home, to a Ghanaian man who creates "fantasy coffins."



After Life

December 7, 2014

Is death what gives life meaning? Looking at the prominence of death and the afterlife in so many religions, you might think so. But for millennia, people have also dreamed about immortality, and now transhumanists are actively trying to extend life by merging our bodies with machines.

In this hour, we explore the philosophical and religious dimensions of mortality and the afterlife. We talk about the art and poetry of remembrance, and now that much of our lives are lived on-line, how do we plan for our digital afterlives?



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