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Dying Well: Doing Death Right and the Comfort of End of Life Visions

  • 06:00 PM
  • 970-476-0954

Dying Well: Doing Death Right and the Comfort of End of Life Visions


With Dr. Christopher Kerr and Dr. Monica Williams

Thursday, June 6, 2019
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; program begins at 6 p.m.

Four Seasons Resort | Vail

“Dying is a paradox. Physically you are declining but spiritually and emotionally you are vivid, alive and present,” said Dr. Christopher Kerr, the director of Hospice Buffalo. But how do you move from fear of dying into a space of vibrancy and life? Dr. Kerr is joined by emergency room physician Dr. Monica Williams for an evening of insight and inspiration, providing an uplifting and perhaps unconventional discussion of death and dying.
Dr. Williams will explore how the end of life offers an unprecedented window of opportunity for emotional and spiritual growth. She will offer guidance into how to harvest the gifts of this phase of living and explore the exceptional states of consciousness that may arise in the final chapter of life. Then, Dr. Kerr will highlight the findings of multiple studies which have documented more than 1,200 end-of-life patient events, many of which are videotaped. He will explore the subjective experiences of dying patients by sharing their perspectives and their words.
Christopher Kerr, MD, Ph.D is a Hospice and Palliative Care physician who serves as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Medical Officer at The Center for Hospice & Palliative Care in Buffalo, NY, where he has worked since 1999. Dr. Kerr has a Doctorate of Medicine, a PhD in Neurobiology and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Rochester. Outside of direct patient care, Dr. Kerr’s focus is in the areas of leadership and advocacy. His passion is palliative care and a belief that such care should be offered upstream of its origins in hospice and throughout the continuum of illness. Dr. Kerr has overseen the integration and expansion of palliative care into local hospitals and developed one of the nation’s largest home based palliative care programs, which includes services for children. He has lectured and published on innovative program models that are designed to better align patient/family services to the complexity of needs inherent to advanced illness. Under Dr. Kerr’s medical leadership, Hospice Buffalo now serves 1,000 patients a day, half of whom receive services prior to hospice.
Dr. Kerr’s background in research has evolved from bench science towards the human experience of illness as witnessed from the bedside, specifically patient’s dreams and visions at the end of life. Although medically ignored, these near universal experiences often provide comfort and meaning, as well as insight into the life led and the death anticipated. To date, the research team at Hospice Buffalo has published multiple studies on this topic and documented over 1,200 end-of-life events, many of which are videotaped. This work was the subject of his TEDx Buffalo Talk which has been viewed over a million times. It has been the subject of reports on The BBC, in The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Scientific American Mind, Huffington Post and Psychology Today and is the
subject of a documentary film in development. It has also gathered international attention and been reported in multiple countries including Norway, Korea, Ireland, India and China. Dr. Kerr’s work will also be published in a book by Penguin Random House in 2020.
Monica Williams, MD is an award-winning writer and board-certified emergency physician with expertise in Death and Dying and medical directives. She practices in one the largest Emergency Departments in the nation at Huntsville Hospital, where she also serves the community as the Medical Director for Advanced Care Planning and End of Life Education and lectures internationally. Additionally, she has served on the board of directors for multiple not-for-profit hospices and co-authored two Alabama State Laws supporting terminally ill minors living in the community setting.
She is faculty for the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Medicine, Long Beach VA Medical Center in California and is an appointee to the American College of Emergency Physicians End-of-Life task force. Her writing, speaking and advocacy focuses on empowering patients and families in critical and end-of-life decision-making and her consulting work centers on the same, although the leading edge of her work is to create dialogue around the exceptional states of consciousness that may occur at the end of life. She serves as the Medical Advisor to the Shared Crossing Research Initiative, the leading research organization studying end of life phenomena.
Her book, “It’s OK to Die” and companion website are tools for transforming the end of life into a time of peace, closure and healing. Dr. Williams has appeared in local and national media as a Medical Expert, including the Emmy Award winning show, “The Doctors” and The  Washington Post and her blog has also appeared in the New York Times, Health Around the Web Column. Her end-of-life preparation checklists have been adopted by the UCLA Healthcare System and the UK’s NHS campaign, Be Ready for It! endorsed by the Norfolk and Suffolk Palliative Care Academy.
This program is generously underwritten by Mary Pat & Keith Rapp and Carel & Marc Slatkoff

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