Grief is a Sneaky Bitch
Sunita Puri, MD | That Good Night
Sunita Puri is a Palliative Medicine physician and author of the incredible book That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour, a critically-acclaimed literary memoir examining her journey to the practice of palliative medicine, and her quest to help patients and families redefine what it means to live and die well in the face of serious illness. In this episode, she explores her experiences in palliative medicine, the role of spirituality and the sacred practice of accompanying someone in their pain and suffering, what it means to have a good death, and so much more. Just like in her writing and in her practice as a palliative physician, Sunita brings so much wisdom, warmth and insight to our conversation.
About the guest
Dr. Sunita Puri is the Program Director of the Hospice and Palliative Medicine fellowship at the University of Massachusetts, where she is also an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine. She completed medical school and residency training in internal medicine at the University of California San Francisco followed by a fellowship in Hospice and Palliative Medicine at Stanford. A graduate of Yale University and the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship, her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Slate, JAMA, and, forthcoming, the New Yorker. She and her work have been featured in the Atlantic, People Magazine, PBS’ Christian Amanpour Show, NPR, the Guardian, BBC, India Today, and Literary Hub. She is passionate about the ways that the precise and compassionate use of language can empower patients and physicians to have the right conversations about living and dying.
- I HIGHLY recommend buying her book That Good Night: Life and Medicine in the Eleventh Hour.
- Other guests who’ve explored aspects of this topic include Dr. BJ Miller and Social Workers Rachel Rusch and Rachel-Carnahan Metzger.
Jump Straight Into It
(14:00) – Sunita talks about how in her training she always gravitated towards “the why” – why is a particular intervention being given? To what end?
(33:15) – Sunita explores the importance of showing up as your authentic self – whether you’re the physician, a family member or a friend. It’s not about a perfect phrase or perfect act, it’s about showing up as you.
(44:00) - Sunita explores the importance of listening versus talking when accompanying someone who’s in pain or suffering. Recognizing the paternalistic approach of fix-it when it comes to patient’s emotions.
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