“Parts of me died early on,” he said in a recent talk. “And that’s something, one way or another, we can all say. I got to redesign my life around this fact, and I tell you it has been a liberation to realize you can always find a shock of beauty or meaning in what life you have left.”

BJ Miller, MD

Episode 25: Dr. BJ Miller

After his experience as a patient, BJ decided to pursue a career in medicine. Deep into medical school, however, disillusioned by the practice versus ideals of medicine, BJ almost gave up on his medical aspirations. Until he stumbled into a clinical rotation in palliative care during his internship at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where there was an immediate connection.

BJ knew he had found his calling. He was able to share a viewpoint rarely brought into the medical setting. He had experienced personal pain and loss and had escaped his own death. He knew what suffering meant. He knew he wanted to make a difference. He wanted to change how individuals thought about illness and death and dying. And now he is doing just that.

As the former executive director of the Zen Hospice Project, BJ Miller helped further a compassionate and pioneering service that initially grew from the San Francisco AIDS crisis in 1987 that created one of the city’s first residential hospices. Zen Hospice Project continues to be recognized as an innovative leader providing care for those facing advanced illness and support to their loved ones, while also educating and supporting an ever-growing community of caregivers

The Center for Dying and Living