#TLFD (The Last Few Days, May 11, 2019):

Have you ever touched the feet of a dead body? Who will you die in the company of? Where do dogs go to die? Do they grieve others’ death? Is fear of death universal? What causes delirium? What role does religion play in dying? When do children first begin to understand that death is permanent, & that even they would die someday? Is every dying person also a living person? Could grieving turn into a disease? How ‘complicated’ can grief be? Do people who deny death often have horrible ends? Does suffering cease to be suffering when it has meaning? Are you good at saying ‘final’ goodbyes? Do the dying (humans, dogs, cats, …) know that they are going to die? Is it (so) difficult to say whether a person is dying? Do people sometimes almost come back from the dead? What are ICU ‘Rules’ for? How does Oscar the Cat know who is going to die next? Do freshly dead people smell different? Can heart continue to beat in a dead person? Do you feel ‘connected’? Are you looking to attain salvation? Will we die good deaths in the future? How ‘distributed’ or centralized would dying be? Can death make one understand Life? &, would death remain a stranger? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from animal care (Abodh Aras, The Welfare of Stray Dogs, Mumbai), psychiatry (Prof. Santosh Chaturvedi, NIMHANS, Bangalore), & palliative care (Dr. M. R. Rajagopal, Pallium India, Thiruvananthapuram).

Listen in…

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TLFD show.

Abodh Aras (animal care) is the Chief Executive Officer of The Welfare Of Stray Dogs (WSD), based in Mumbai. WSD is an animal welfare organisation that helps street animals through sterilisation, vaccination, on-site first-aid, adoption and healthcare. It works to eradicate rabies and control the street-dog population in a humane, scientific way. Abodh has an MBA in Marketing and has an undergraduate degree in Hotel Management and Arts. He has worked in the corporate sector with companies like DHL Worldwide Express managing customer services and sales. His passion for animals led him to quit the corporate sector and join WSD in 2000 where he volunteered since 1995. He also serves on the Board of The Federation Of Indian Animal Protection Organisations and is a member of The Maharashtra State Animal Welfare Board. As the CEO of WSD, Abodh leads all initiatives of WSD such as educating the public about rabies prevention & other street dog issues, and promote the adoption of street dogs. WSD also runs a Pariah Dog Club, that encourages citizens of Mumbai to adopt Indian Pariah Dog, which is an ancient breed related to the spitz family and the Australian Dingo. WSD has led the movement to oppose stray dog killing done for decades by Municipal Corporation of Mumbai; a practice that used to kill up to 50,000 street dogs annually. WSD, under Abodh’s leadership, proposed & implemented mass sterilisation and immunisation of street dogs. Under this programme, street dogs are surgically neutered & vaccinated against rabies, and then returned to their own areas. Abodh loves Mumbai and knows all its street dogs by name.

Prof. Santosh K. Chaturvedi (psychiatry) is Senior Professor of Psychiatry & Head, Department of Mental Health Education, at National Institute of Mental Health & Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore. His research interests are psycho oncology & palliative care, consultation liaison psychiatry, chronic pain & bodily distress, neuropsychiatry, quality of life research, and cultural psychiatry. Prof. Chaturvedi completed his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (M.B.B.S.) from Delhi University and received his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) in Psychiatry from PGIMER Chandigarh. He has published more than 120 research papers/articles on psychosocial oncology, end of life care, spirituality & palliative care in various leading international and national journals, & books. He has also edited and published four books on the subject, including one on Communication skills in Palliative Care, published by VHAI (Voluntary Health Association of India). Additionally, Prof. Chaturvedi is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation & Mental Health (Springer Publications, 2014 till date) and the Associate Editor, British Journal of Psychiatry – International (2014 till date). Prof. Chaturvedi has been awarded the National Award by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on three occasions for his contributions to the field of Mental Health. He has also received the Commonwealth Medical Fellowship on Cancer at Manchester UK, 1988-1990. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCPE, Edinburgh) and a Fellow of Royal College of Psychiatrists (FRCPsych, UK). He is also a Life Member of Indian Association of Palliative Care (IAPC).

Dr. M. R. Rajagopal (palliative care) is the Director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Policy and Training on Access to Pain Relief at Trivandrum Institute of Palliative Sciences (TIPS) and the Founder Chairman of Pallium India. He has also previously worked as Professor and Head of Anaesthesiology in Calicut Medical College, and as Professor and Head of of Pain and Palliative Medicine at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (Kochi, Kerala). Dr. Rajagopal completed his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (M.B.B.S) from Trivandrum Medical College, Kerala (1971) and received his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) in anaesthesiology from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS, New Delhi, 1974). In 2017, he co-authored the Lancet commission report on Global Access to Palliative Care and Pain Relief, which pointed out that more than 61 million people are living without access to palliative care. The report also described a possible global strategy for correction in this inequity in care and suggested a low-cost essential package which could potentially remedy the situation. Dr. Rajagopal was awarded the Padma Shri (2018) by the President of India for his distinguished achievements in the field of palliative medicine. He has also been awarded ‘Alison Des Forges award for extraordinary activism’ from Human Rights Watch in 2014. A documentary film on his contributions to palliative care in India titled ‘Hippocratic: 18 experiments in gently shaking the world’ was released in 2017. He has also been named one of the 30 most influential leaders in hospice and palliative medicine by American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM, 2017).

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TLFD mentions: Viktor Frankl, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Jessica Pierce, & David Dosa, among others.