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PDV 105 W — What Matters Most in Life: The Lessons We Can Learn from Dying

Quarter: Fall
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Sep 26—Nov 18
Refund Deadline: Sep 29
Unit: 1
Tuition: $560
Instructor(s): Jake Krueger
Limit: 40
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Registration opens Aug 22, 8:30 am (PT)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Sep 26—Nov 18
8 weeks
Refund Date
Sep 29
1 Unit
Jake Krueger
Registration opens Aug 22, 8:30 am (PT)
Poet and cancer survivor Christian Wiman wrote, “Death is here to teach us something, or to make us fit for something.” Indeed, no subject demands answers to the hard questions of life more than death: What kind of life is worth living? How should I cope with aging? How do I want this all to end, and how do I want to be remembered? This course searches for answers to these questions through a compassionate reading of authors who wrote about their experiences with death and dying. The core readings will be three books: Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, and Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.

Throughout this course, we will reflect on identity and the process of living with illness, grieving for others and ourselves, and how to care for others and honor their wishes. In thinking about death, we will think more clearly about what makes life meaningful, what and who we are grateful for, and what goals we ultimately want to set for ourselves. By the end of this course, students will have learned both philosophical and practical lessons about not only the good death but also the good life.

This course will feature videos with Jason Silverstein, the Harvard lecturer who originally developed this course.

Humanist Chaplain; Grief Support Counselor

Jake Krueger is a Humanist chaplain and counselor specializing in grief and life transitional support. During the first year of the Covid pandemic, they served as part of a chaplain on-call service endorsed by the Maine CDC for healthcare workers in Maine. Krueger received an MDiv from Harvard Divinity and trained in the clinical pastoral education chaplain residency program at Maine Medical Center.