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Among Diverse Communities, A ‘Good Death’ Looks Different

photo of a man in a congregation, praying
Courtesy of Pastor Ronald Godbee

When Dr. David Casarett asks patients with a terminal illness what they would like to do with the time they have left, some stare blankly back at him. Others have a big list of family members they want to spend time with and to-do list items to check off.

Casarett, Chief of Palliative Care and professor of medicine at Duke University, says thinking about end-of-life is important to remove anxiety and create the conditions to die on one’s own terms. But different communities and groups of people have their own perspectives and approaches to what a good end-of-life looks like.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Casarett about the similarities and differences he has noticed about what matters to people who are nearing the end of their lives. He also talks with Linda Jacob, whose husband passed away at home with assistance from Duke Hospice, and with Ronald Godbee, lead pastor of The River Church in Durham, who interacts with grief every day as he encourages congregants to embrace the opportunities for faith and fulfillment that death presents.

Casarett will facilitate a panel discussion with Jacobs, Godbee and additional speakers entitled “Dignity, Diversity and Visions of a Good Death” on Feb. 23 at 5:30 p.m. in the Duke University Chapel in Durham.

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Jennifer Brookland is the American Homefront Project Veterans Reporting Fellow. She covers stories about the military and veterans as well as issues affecting the people and places of North Carolina.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.