Modern dying is a trainwreck

Charles Cowling


There’s a good TED talk here by Peter Saul. 

Dr. Peter Saul is a Senior Intensive Care specialist in the adult and paediatric ICU at John Hunter Hospital, and Director of Intensive Care at Newcastle Private Hospital in Australia.  After spending time as the Head of Discipline for Medical Ethics at Newcastle University, he is now a leading adviser to the State and Federal health departments.

Some notes and quotes from the talk:

“How we die lives on in the minds of everybody who survives us.”

Dying in intensive care is 7x more stressful than dying anywhere else.

1 in 10 of us will die in intensive care. In the US 1 in 5 and in Miami 3 in 5.

6 out of 10 of us will die of increasing frailty after a final year of acute disability.

“Increasing longevity means more old age, not more youth.”

The obstructive cultural issue: we don’t want to talk about it.

One small idea: let’s all of us have the conversation about how we want to die. The key question: “In the event that you become too sick to speak for yourself, who would you like to speak for you?”

The big idea: give people control over their dying; to”reclaim death from the medicalised model in which it’s going.”

Euthanasia is a sideshow. 

“You matter because you are you, and you matter to the last moment of your life.” — Dame Cicely Saunders.


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gloria mundi
gloria mundi

Just caught this. What a superb speaker, what a brilliant talk.

Poppy, the most direct flights to Australia are probably Emirates, or Singapore….good luck!


I’ve long been of the opinion that we just don’t know how to let people die when it’s their time in our ‘I will fix you’ society. I’ve heard these statistics ,but it’s not just the statistics, it’s the people who say ‘Let me go’ only to be plugged into machines and drips and drugs to prolong their tortuous dying because they didn’t sign the form in time.
More intelligent debate like this required.


It’s so refreshing to hear a doctor talk like this. I’m now a little bit in love with this man.