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What doctors know about death that the rest of us don’t

Danielle Teller
Physician and researcher

Yet another story recently surfaced about how doctors don’t die like everyone else. Doctors die quietly at home, surrounded by family—not in the hospital like most Americans. This difference has been ascribed to knowledge about the limits of modern medicine and experience with the horror of lingering deaths on life support, and there is doubtless truth in those ascriptions. As a physician and writer, I believe that there is also another more subtle but equally important contributor, and that has to do with the stories we tell ourselves about death.

The language we use about death is illustrative of our attitudes. We speak of fighting and overcoming disease, of courage and bravery, of beating the odds. We also speak of giving up, letting go, losing the battle. It’s as though we believe that death isn’t inevitable, that we have some choice in the matter. We even say to one another, “If I die,” and “If you die,” not “When we die”—as though our probability of dying weren’t exactly 100%. Read the rest of the piece here. (Quartz)

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