Blunt Dissection Ep 44: Dr BJ Miller - Embracing our mortality for a better shot at life

On today’s show, I’m joined by Dr BJ Miller. BJ is a practising hospice and palliative medicine physician in San Francisco, an author and speaker, best known for his TED Talk, "What Really Matters at the End of Life”. He has been on the teaching faculty at UCSF School of Medicine since 2007 and sees patients and caregivers through his online palliative care service, Mettle Health. He is the subject of Netflix's Academy Award-nominated short documentary, End Game and his book for approaching the end of life, A Beginner’s Guide to the End, was co-authored with Shoshana Berger and published in 2019. He’s also a triple amputee who suffered a horrific injury resulting in the loss of both legs and his left arm when he was an undergrad at Princeton. To many, this would have been calamitous. To BJ, it became a transformative moment of deep pain he harnessed to find purpose. Now, before we get into the show, a quick word from today’s sponsor...

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Enter Lap of Love, a veterinary service working in partnership with veterinarians across America to offer an incomparably compassionate end of life care experience for pets in their own homes. In one memorable example, CEO Dr Dani McVety was asked to euthanize a family pet in his beloved swimming pool…. The result was a pet passing in his favorite place, a family grieving but grateful, and a sad moment made infinitely better by an act of amazing kindness. So, if want your clients to experience a beautiful end to their pet’s life or learn more about how you can make the euthanasia experience better for your patients then visit And maybe, just maybe, you’ll end up doing house calls in swimming pools too! …back to the show. ----------------- This interview ranks as a huge personal highlight, and it could be so for all manner of reasons. BJs inspirational story of overcoming incredible adversity. His dedication to a career; making a massive difference. Or his utterly genuine and radiant personality. But in my case, it’s because of a single line he shared in his interview with Tim Ferriss. One that shaped my view of patient and client care forever…. to learn more, listen on.

In the interview, we cover a great many topics, but in particular death, mortality and by unbreakable association, life itself. While some of the topics were confronting, it was both a comfort and pleasure to have BJ as my guide. I hope you enjoy this uplifting conversation with the wonderful BJ Miller as he illuminates some of the darker places we fear to tread.

Listen on iTunes here. Listen on Soundcloud here. Listen on Stitcher here. Listen on Spotify here.

Outline Of This Episode:

● [03:16] Introduction to Dr. BJ Miller and his involvement in the Zen Hospice Project ● [08:39] The legacy that BJ wanted to leave by leading the Zen Hospice Project ● [13:38] The spirituality of BJ’s work ● [16:22] BJ’s relationship with death and what he learned about living after his incident ● [25:13] Coping with pain ● [33:13] Embracing emotional changes while staying professional and grounded ● [37:56] The power of reframing experiences ● [43:14] BJ’s daily “rituals” ● [50:32] BJ’s thoughts on euthanasia ● [57:11] The good that came out of BJ’s near-death experience ● [1:04:05] BJ’s plans for the future

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Be safe, be well, be happy.

Dr. D