Health TEDx

Charity Tillemann-Dick shares the harrowing story of living between life and death

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At TEDMED 2010, opera singer Charity Tillemann-Dick told the story of a revolutionary, life-changing surgery — a double lung transplant. While a doctor had warned her that she would never sing again, Charity Tillemann-Dick: Singing after a double lung transplant Charity Tillemann-Dick: Singing after a double lung transplant she revealed what it felt like to get her voice back. “We need to stop letting disease divorce us from our dreams,” she said.

Now, three years after her first transplant (she has since had another), Tillemann-Dick has given a second talk, “Discourses from the undead,” filmed at TEDxMidAtlantic in December. In the talk above, she takes a stark look at death. sharing the vivid dreams that she had while she was in an unconscious state after her surgery — a time when her doctor said that survival was unlikely. Having “spent many a night in death’s guesthouse,” Tillemann-Dick  shares meaningful lessons that she believes to be from the next world, and gives thanks.

“While [death’s] sting is real, good can come from it,” she says. “Death is as much a part of life as love, birth and happiness.”

Far too few people are organ donors, and Tillemann-Dick attributes this not to disregard but to our lack of conversation about death. She says it’s time to talk about death. Will you join her?