Enric Benito, leading worldwide expert in palliative care, asserts that when a person loses their fear of dying, they learn to live better and are happier

Invited by the WeCare Chair chair of UIC Barcelona, the palliative physician presented his latest book, El niño que se enfadó con la muerte (The Boy Who was Angry with Death, Ed. Harper Collins), in an event hosted by journalist Núria Ramírez and in which he was accompanied by Dr María Nabal, head of Palliative Care at the Arnau de Vilanova University Hospital in Lleida

On Thursday, 30 May, the Aula Magna of the Barcelona Campus hosted the presentation of the latest book by the Mallorcan oncologist Enric Benito, invited by the University’s WeCare Chair. As Dr Joaquim Julià, co-director of the Chair, emphasised in his welcoming remarks: ‘It is an honour to have a world reference in palliative care such as Dr Benito, with whom we share the values that identify us such as attention, compassion and humanization in the care of people.’ 

In the first part of the event, TVE journalist Núria Ramírez talked with Dr Benito about his work, in which he collects personal stories of patients he has seen die in hospital palliative units. In a relaxed and intimate atmosphere, Benito shared his experience of more than forty years as an oncologist and palliative physician, as well as his main personal and professional lessons learned. With the assurance that ‘dying is a very organised process,’ Benito recalled: ‘Dying is not the opposite of living, but of being born,’ so it is essential to ‘live in a full, happy way, but not in the hedonic sense. Rather, in the sense of congruence with oneself, of loving, of learning from life’ in order not to be afraid of death and to live the final stage of life in a calm and serene way. 

The oncologist also explained that death continues to be a taboo in today’s society and that it is important, when the time comes, that professionals and family ‘do not deceive the patient, but manage the information given based on what the patient wants to know so as not to create suffering and a feeling of loneliness.’ 

The second part of the event featured the participation of Dr María Nabal, head of Palliative Care at the Arnau de Vilanova University Hospital in Lleida, who spoke and shared experiences with Dr Benito, accompanied by Ramírez.

Both experts regretted that currently a large part of the population does not have access to palliative care and pointed out the need to train active professionals and future healthcare professionals so that they have the necessary skills to ‘accompany patients in the final stage of life by offering them not only medical care, but also spiritual care, which is of great relevance at such times.’ Along these lines, both called for a Palliative Care Law that guarantees people their right to be well cared for at the end of life.

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