Document Type


Publication Date



My father passed away at 102 years old. He lived, aged, and died well. But that is rare in the United States and globally. The World Health Organization defines palliative care “throughout the life course” as improving quality of life for patients and families and relieving pain and suffering, while paying special attention to physical, psychosocial, and spiritual functioning. That’s the global vision, but then there’s the reality. Palliative care, in practice, has been little more than pain relief at life’s end—and in much of the world, not even that.

We need to reimagine palliation, embracing a communal or relational ethics of caring for the whole person, embedded in families and communities. What would healthy living, aging, and dying in a just society look like?

Publication Citation

Milbank Quarterly.