I read a gorgeous New York Times Article recently about Dr. B.J. Miller, a palliative care doctor, who became a doctor after becoming a triple amputee. He has become famous in the last 2 years from his 2015 TED talk entitled “What really matters at the end of life,” (which has about 5 million views). What struck me most about Dr. Miller is how in learning to embrace his injuries he learned the truth about what truly makes us whole. A truth that he uses to help dying people face death.
The question he asks of his dying patients with maybe only months, weeks or even days to live is “What is your favorite part of yourself?” “What do we want to protect as everything falls apart?” And that answer is different for each of his patients. I was intrigued by Dr. Miller’s question because it probes at the essence of who we are – a thread that we may sometimes lose sight of, but that doesn’t break, that remains whole. The thread that can lead us back to ourselves and bring us ease in times of suffering and heartache.
Dr. Miller, himself, is deeply inspiring to read about. A triple amputee from a young man, who went on to complete an Art History degree at Princeton and then become a world renowned palliative care doctor. Someone who hasn’t become smaller because of his physical limitations, but who aside from all his other impressive achievements, mountain bikes and rides motorcycles. He appears to be fully inhabiting his life, despite his physical limitations.
In my law practice, I am witness to a lot of heartache and suffering. It is the thing that makes us all so intensely human and the practice of family law so challenging. “Suffering is a variation on a theme we all deal with, to be human is really hard,” Dr. Miller states. And it is. The article on Dr. Miller has a wonderful quote at the end about the direction that he is taking with his own life that is akin to the question that he asks of his dying patients, and that is that he is “committing to the parts of himself that are most meaningful and trying to shake free of all of the other unhelpful expectations.” It seems to me that “committing to the most meaningful parts of ourselves,” is the path toward learning how to fully live in spite of our own inevitable human heartache and suffering. Perhaps, it is even the way to get free of it.
For help getting through the heartache of a family law crisis, please contact Georgia Fraser, Esq. of Fraser Family Law Office (609)223-2099.