Ep. 251 Insights Into the Experience of Dying with Jennie Dear

Learn about current research into the experience of dying as a physical, emotional and spiritual process.

My guest Jennie Dear, who has been a journalist, English professor and hospice volunteer, was curious about the question “what does it feel like to die?” so she conducted her own research project. After interviewing doctors, nurses, psychologists, and other experts about the passage between diagnosis and death, she wrote a book (What Does it Feel Like to Die?) to share the hopeful insights she gained. She discusses what she learned from that project and what most people don’t know and need to know about the dying process. Learn more about her work at the website:


Listen here:

This episode includes:

  • Why and how Jennie wrote this book
  • How knowing about the physical process of dying can help people prepare better for the end of life
  • Why some dying patients’ pain is not alleviated
    • Fear of opioid abuse
    • Other untreated symptoms
    • Mental/emotional suffering of the dying process
  • Neuroscience experiments with patients in a vegetative state show patients are more aware than they appear to be
  • How do we know that “hearing is the last sense to go” for a dying patient
  • The 4 trajectories of dying (according to Dr. Joanne Lynn) and why it’s helpful to understand them
    • Sudden death
    • Terminal illness
    • Chronic illness
    • Frailty
  • Most common reasons for choosing medical aid in dying:
    • Fear of pain
    • Not wanting to be a burden to family
    • Not wanting to prolong the dying process

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Course: Racism in Death Care – Confronting Bias, Ignorance and Prejudice taught by Joel Anthony and Anita Grant
  • Get Jennie’s book here: What Does it Feel Like to Die?
  • Get Karen’s book here: 7 Lessons for Living from the Dying
  • Dr. Joanne Lynn discusses 3 Trajectories of Death – video
  • The Five Trajectories pdf by Jennifer Moore Ballentine
  • Jennie’s YouTube video
  • Join the team at Patreon.com/eolu and get access to the EOLU mug“Mind if we talk about death?” (only Patrons can purchase it). PLUS get our new bonuses: the monthly EOL News Update, movie reviews from 2 Doctors and a Movie, and automatic access to A Year of Reading Dangerously!

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