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Are we experiencing a changing culture of how we die in America?

Graphic Illustration by MK Czerwiec

Graphic Illustration by MK Czerwiec

The media is like a finger on the pulse of our culture. Sometimes it reports on things happening on the edges, like coverage about death in America. 

Take media reports on living funerals where participants are asked to grapple with their own mortality over dinner; board games to spark participants to share their end-of-life wishes, death cafes, a death simulator that let’s you experience what cremation and rebirth might be like; and organic biodegradable burial pods buried under a tree you selected pre-death that become the source nutrients for the tree planted in a field. History informs us that some stuff sticks so I’m suggesting that it won’t be long before more of these lived experiences become common to our culture on death.

Are we experiencing a changing culture of how we die in America?

HealthCetera producer Liz Seegert’s radio segment reports on the the New York Academy of Medicine’s  Dying In America: Complex Choices  event sponsored by the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veteran Health held on May 5, 2016. Panelists included Amy Berman, RN, senior program officer at the John A. Hartford Foundation; Carolyn Jones, filmmaker;  Kenneth Prager, MD, professor of Clinical Medicine, director of Clinical Ethics and chairman of the Medical Ethics Committee, Columbia University Medical Center; and Judith Schwarz, RN, PhD, clinical director, End of Life Choices New York.  CHMP’s co-director, Barbara Glickstein was the moderator.

They shared insights from their personal struggles and professional experiences about one of the most difficult challenges facing caregivers, patients and health care professionals at the end-of-life.

MK Czerwiec, a.k.a. Comic Nurse, is a comic and graphic artist, who uses comics to reflect on the complexities of illness and caregiving. She attended this event and created the graphic facilitation posted above. Thank you MK!

This segment will air Thursday, June 9 at 1 PM on WBAI Pacifica Radio 99.5 FM and streamed live at

You can listen to this segment now

Written by

Barbara Glickstein is a co-director of the GW Nursing Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement, as well as a nurse, media guru and activist in New York City. She is the chairman of the board of Project Kesher and a consultant to many health care organizations and creative projects. She tweets and 'grams @blickstein.

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