Restoring Meaning And Dignity To End-Of-Life Care with Katy Butler

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We live in a time when advanced medicine can give us the ability to live longer and longer but ultimately death is a reality. Advanced medicine, most especially conveyor-belt medicine, is not set up to prepare us for a peaceful death. The final reality of death is unavoidable but the path to it is unpredictable. No matter how much we want to control things, disabilities can arise suddenly in the form of heart attacks, strokes, or accidents to name a few. Or, we can find ourselves in the thrall of Western medicine when we or a loved one gets a diagnosis of a disease such as cancer or another prolonged illness. This deep dialogue addresses how we can remain clearheaded about our choices and when we should say enough is enough and choose, as best we can, to die well. Most of us agree that we can use some guidance in this area. This program is filled with specific advice and resources for the patient and the caregivers about dying with dignity. Butler advises us to not wait for a health crisis to consider our wishes about dying and to have conversations with our friends and loved ones in advance. She says, “Rather than waiting for health crisis, start with the shallow end of the pool and explore what gives your life joy, what gives your life meaning, what are your fears? What medical treatments would you not want if you felt you couldn’t do the things that make your life worth living?” (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Katy Butler is a journalist and speaker on doctor-patient communication and the choices families face near the end of life. 

Katy Butler is the author of:

 To learn more about the work of Katy Butler go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • What was the experience of her father’s slow demise at the hand of Western medicine
  • What is a medical directive and why should we draw one up
  • What is the big gray zone between active living and active dying
  • What are a few of the seven stages of one’s life and health
  • The first stage of health is resilience
  • What are the three miracle drugs: water, exercise, and community
  • Why we need more water as we age
  • Why we should be cautious and informed about any pharmaceuticals we are taking
  • What are some credible resources we can find on the internet regarding pharmaceuticals
  • When is chemotherapy most effective and what is the billing system related to chemotherapy
  • What is hospice, what does it provide, what does it not provide, and when would we want to use it
  • What is some advice of who to call and what specific words to say when someone has actually died at home
  • What are two excellent websites to help with caregiving
  • Why dying is difficult in the ER
  • How a spiritual practice is even more important at the end of life or when caring for the dying
  • What are some examples of Butler’s own dementia directive

Host: Justine Willis Toms          Interview Date: 12/18/2018            Program Number: 3668

Music Playlist

From Album: Bloom Road
Artist: Dan Kennedy
2015 Mt. Pullux Music #MPM-003 

Opening Essay: Track 02 – Prayer for Janet
Music Break 1: Track 05 – Beautiful Day (with You)
Music Break 2: Track 06 – Dulcimer on C Minor
Music Break 3: Track 08 – Bloom Road