A couple of people have asked why we wanted to make a show about death and dying and for any books or articles they could read about the science of resuscitation. So here’s a copy of a note I wrote for the programme for the show plus a bunch of links to interesting books, videos, articles and websites to go deeper…
In 2013 I read an interview with a medical doctor specialising in the development of resuscitation techniques and how he and his colleagues were able to bring people “back to life”, sometimes hours after their hearts had stopped beating, with no neurological damage. It spun me out a bit in honesty, particularly the assertion that death is no longer considered to be a fixed moment in time but rather a process – a process that can, increasingly, be reversed. It made me want to know the answers to a lot of questions.
Chris and I started to talk about and imagine what the implications are for us as a society at a time when medical science is radically reimagining definitions of death. As we read and researched and talked to people (in particularly Dr Andy Lockey who has been a brilliant and enormously generous collaborator), we discovered that the science of resuscitating someone who is dead is actually pretty simple. But the conversation around death and dying and what it means to each of us as individuals, partners, families and a wider society remains a difficult one for us to have openly, clearly and honestly. In the UK, at least.
As the cliché goes, death is the only thing we can all be sure of sharing as an experience. So at a time when medical science is radically reimagining the definitions and understanding of death, we wanted to ask and answer some of the big, personal questions that naturally arise – particularly as death is rarely talked about openly, clearly and honestly.
Thanks for joining us tonight and taking part in this conversation. We hope that as a result, we might have done even a little to help develop a more positive, public conversation around experiences and understanding of death. We wonder if, maybe, it will help us to live better.
The Newspaper Article That Started it All For Us
An interview with Dr Sam Parnia, head of intensive care at the Stony Brook University Hospital in New York
‘The Lazarus Effect’ by Sam Parnia
‘Glasshouse’ by Charles Stross
‘Being Dead’ by Jim Crace
Other Articles and Sites We Read During Our Research
The extraordinary Dr Kate Granger’s article – ‘What’s The Deal With Resuscitation?’
Dying Matters – a coalition
of 30,000 members across England and Wales which aims to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life:
The Natural Death Centre – lifting the lid on dying and funerals
Tragedy as Comfort Fiction: On Death, Drama, Disaster & Saving the World – blog post by author Charlie Stross
A Shift in Attitudes: How Radical do we need to be to Prepare for Population Ageing? – blog post by Claire Turner, Head of the Ageing Society Research Team at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation
A Code of Practice for the Diagnosis and Confirmation of Death – by the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges
The AWARE Study – a multidisciplinary collaboration of international scientists and physicians who have joined forces to study the relationship between mind and brain during clinical death
What is a Death Cafe?
Death Cafe’s aim to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.
Find a Death Cafe – World Map
How and Where Can I Learn CPR?
The Resuscitation Council (UK) Interactive ‘Lifesaver’ film
NHS Ambulance Service First Aid Training Courses – find your local services
St John Ambulance training courses
NHS Guidelines on how to perform CPR
What is an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and How Do I Find One?
AED Locator – “the purpose of this website is to help you save a life”
London Ambulance Service Shockingly Easy Campaign – “aiming to get 1000 extra defibrillators into London shops, businesses and gyms”
What is a Do Not Attempt Resuscitation Order?