Is Dying on Your Bucket List?

Save the Date for Alive’s Symposium on Family, Health, and Spirituality

For the past several years, the Alive Institute’s annual symposium has served as a unique gathering for community members from all walks of life. The only requirement to attend is a shared interest in treating death as a meaningful part of life. Attendees typically include health care professionals, caregivers, social workers, grief counselors, Alive Hospice family members, faith leaders, chaplains, wellness businesses, end-of-life service providers, and students.

“Part memoir, part exposé, this book is an insider’s view of intensive care in America and its impact on how we die. Dr. Zitter’s wisdom derives from a career whose trajectory models a rethinking of care for the dying. A clarion call for end-of-life care that aligns with what each patient values most.”
– Lucy Kalanithi, MD, co-author of “When Breath Becomes Air”

After some reflection, we changed the name this year to explicitly include health and family. This better represents the actual scope of the symposium and reflects our commitment to continuously broaden this dialogue. Most of what influences our options at the end of life comes long before we face our final days. This includes the health care experiences we have (or do not have) prior to hospice and the advice of people we love and trust to help us make our most important decisions. It also includes health care inequities and the barriers to care that many groups face.

It is our goal to make excellent end-of-life care accessible to everyone. Our recent focus groups with African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos move us toward our goal as does the training we provide to students across multiple disciplines and to health care professionals.

We will continue to expand this conversation and our community with every gathering. After all, as one Alive volunteer so aptly said, “Dying is on my bucket list, and I want to know more about it before I do it.”

We are proud to announce Dr. Jessica Zitter is this year’s keynote speaker

Dr. Jessica Nutik Zitter, MD, MPH, is a national advocate for transforming the way people die in America. She is Harvard University and University of California, San Francisco-trained to practice the unusual combination of critical care and palliative care medicine, which she practices at Highland Hospital, the public hospital in Oakland, California.

She became a critical care doctor, she says, because “she wanted to be a hero.” Along the way, she learned what those of us drawn to hospice already know: Our medical care system is not designed with quality of life in mind, especially for the dying.

Dr. Zitter has written a memoir, Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life, about this learning journey and how she was inspired to move into palliative care.

Her essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and others. Her work is featured in an Oscar- and Emmy-nominated short documentary, Extremis, now on Netflix. She regularly lectures on the topic of dying in America. Health care inequality among African-American communities and mistrust of the health system is another focus of her research.

Visit her site to learn more:

Alive Symposium on Family, Health, and Spirituality event details
Thursday, November 8, 2018  |  8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Belmont University, Janet Ayers Academic Center, Nashville
Register online: