Byock will argue that the precarious nature of life asks all of us to consider the question, “How then shall we live?” He believes we have the capacity to respond to death in creative and caring ways that express essential human values and create meaning.
Byock is the Director of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire. During his medical school residency in the late 1970s, Byock witnessed his father’s battle with pancreatic cancer. This experience was transformative for Byock, and ultimately led him into the fields of hospice and palliative care. He is now one of the leading proponents of compassionate end-of-life care in the United States.
A consistent advocate for the rights of dying patients and their families, Byock sees death as central to the meaning and value of human life. In his view, the universal inevitability of death provides the backdrop against which life is lived, and demands that we carefully consider our values and life choices as individuals, family members, and communities.