death

Hospital chaplain Trudy James.
Screenshot from YouTube

Ross Reynolds speaks with hospital chaplain Trudy James who for 30 years has encouraged and facilitated conversations about how people want to die, and how they want to live at the end of their lives. A new Seattle-produced documentary film called "Speaking of Dying" looks at her work.

Alice Beaty watches her son Adam work on speech exercises at their home in Bellingham, Wash., on March 27, 2015. Adam is recovering from a severe car accident. It was initially unclear if he would survive.
KUOW Photo/Mike Kane

Palliative care has often been associated with elderly people who are dying.

Not anymore. Today, palliative care is more than that. It means supporting patients and their families, no matter their age. And it doesn’t mean that death is imminent.

Mark and Alice Beaty learned this first hand. A year and a half ago, they received a phone call that every parent dreads. Their son Adam had been in a rollover car accident on Interstate 5. He was 27 years old.

Greta Austin's family faced the issues surround end-of-life care when her father, George Austin, was diagnosed with cancer. He is pictured here with his wife, Shirley, On Easter Day, 2013.
Courtesy of Greta Austin

Greta Austin has spent a lot of time in medical waiting rooms.

Two years ago last fall, her father came to Seattle from Wisconsin for treatment, and she sat with him at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Vital Talk: Resources And Other Stories

Apr 15, 2015
Flickr Photo/Piermario (CC-BY-NC-ND)

We hope that our series "Vital Talk: Between Life And Death" inspires important conversations with your loved ones. Included below are additional stories from the KUOW archives as well as resources our reporters found helpful while working on this series.

Resources For Planning End Of Life

Let's Talk About Death

Dec 23, 2014

Holidays are the time when families and friends gather together for food and conversation, but some of the most important topics like end-of-life care are the most difficult to discuss.

A recent study shows that 90 percent of Americans say it’s important to talk about end-of-life care, but only 30 percent actually do.

Amber Larkins and Terry Jaeger of the Pierce County Medical Examiner's office hold up vessels containing unclaimed cremated remains.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

When the nameless die, they often end up in a potter’s field, a common grave. In Pierce County, unclaimed remains or bodies get cremated and placed up on a shelf in the medical examiner’s office. 

But that shelf has gotten crowded lately. So medical examiner Thomas Clark decided to give those unclaimed ashes a respectable burial – at sea.

This is an excerpt from a longer interview that was originally broadcast on Oct. 19, 2011.

A few years after her younger brother John died from AIDS-related complications in 1989, poet Marie Howe wrote him a poem in the form of a letter. Called "What the Living Do," the poem is an elegiac description of loss, and of living beyond loss.

Death seems one of life's few certainties, but the cases of a girl and a young woman who are being kept on life support even though they are legally dead show how difficult it still can be to agree on the end of life.

The Business Of Dying: Searching For Place To Die

Dec 9, 2013

Imagine shopping around for a new home, but instead of looking for a new place to live, you are looking for a place to die. That’s the situation 82-year-old Norma Chaty found herself in.

Katy Butler's book "Knocking on Heaven's Door."

When Katy Butler’s father had a major stroke the family had a lot of medical options, except the one they most wanted: a humane and timely death. David Hyde speaks with Katy Butler about her new book, "Knocking On Heaven’s Door: The Path To A Better Way Of Death."

Flickr Photo/Piermario (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Death is one of those subjects considered taboo in polite company. But recently a group of strangers gave up a sunny afternoon to meet in a Seattle coffee shop to talk about just that.

Monica Wesolowska Discusses "Holding Silvan"

May 16, 2013
Monica Wesolowska's book "Holding Silvan."

When Monica Wesolowska’s newborn child wouldn’t stop crying, he was taken in for observation. Soon Wesolowska and her husband had to make a tough decision about their son’s life. She shares her experiences and insight with David Hyde.

Courtesy The Onlies

This Week In Olympia
The state legislature begins its special session today. Everett Herald reporter Jerry Cornfield joins us with a  look at what to expect.

What Makes A Good Death?
Retired pulmonary and critical care doctor, Jim deMaine, has seen his fair share of good and bad deaths.  He shares his views on making a good and peaceful exit.  

The Music Of The Onlies
Samantha Braman, Riley Calcagno and Leo Shannon have been playing fiddle since they were 6, 4 and 5, respectively. Now 10 years later they’ve released their first full-length CD, "Setting Out To Sea." As freshmen at Garfield High School, The Onlies play their folk string music at concerts, festivals, weddings, dances; busking from Port Townsend to Portland, Ore. They’ve been a band for five years, creating original fiddle-driven music as well as traditional Celtic, old-time, American and Canadian inspired tunes.

Breaking The Taboo Against Talking About Death

May 7, 2013

How do you want to die? Seattle food provocateur and entrepreneur Michael Hebb wants you to talk about it -- over dinner.

Hebb says how we want to die represents the most important and costly conversation Americans aren’t having. The price of end-of-life care can bankrupt a family and often doesn’t improve quality life for the one dying. And it’s much more difficult to navigate end-of-life decisions, and how an individual wants to be remembered, when the conversation never happened.

The Curious Fates Of Famous Corpses

Mar 12, 2013
King Tut
Flickr Photo/Tutincommon

American culture loves celebrity. Magazines and television shows follow the lives of celebrities like an ongoing mini-series -- until they die. That’s when we typically set down one tale and start another. But the story doesn’t always end there. Some famous corpses had very curious fates. Seattle writer Bess Lovejoy is author of "Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses." She joins us.

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