The Research Triangle Park

RTP180 Recap: Death

By Author Oct 29, 2018

October 18, we celebrated the spooky season with RTP180: Death! Despite the somber nature of the subject, our five speakers are professionals who delivered their material spectacularly. With the smell of popcorn in the air and beer taps flowing, everyone had a great time. There was even a surprise flash mob of zombies getting down to Thriller! This event was definitely one for the books.

  • Peter Burke of Wake Funeral & Cremation Services was our first speaker of the night. He started with some lighthearted humor about the nature of his occupation, then dove in to the differences in the burial services he has provided throughout his career. Instead of the traditional cremation or burial, environmentally conscious alternatives like alkaline hydrolysis are becoming popular. Another new development? Today, coffins can be ordered online or purchased at your local Costco before you ever meet with a funeral service practitioner. Watch Pete’s talk here.
  • Evan Carroll of Evan Carroll and Associates revealed that there is a new provision that should be made in one’s last will and testament. With the prominence of social media, it is important to decide what happens to our digital assets after death. Evan explained that online accounts can help people to stay connected to their loved ones who have passed on. He advised a plan of action to make sure a friend or family member is given the right permissions for access to avoid accounts being shut down. Watch Evan’s talk here.RTP180 death
  • Justin Kelley of Duke Health Technology Services spoke on the role that hospice care plays in supporting patients and families through one of the most difficult periods in their lives. He emphasized doula services, which provide a trained companion who will give patients and their families the best comfort possible. With his occupation, he is constantly reminded of what’s truly important in life. He encouraged us to remember that as well, and to always tell our loved ones how we feel about them. Watch Justin’s talk here.
  • Joseph Megel of StreetSigns Center addressed the reality of death and how it affects us all as human beings. He read excerpts from Studs Terkel’s “Will the circle be Unbroken? Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith” and took us on the different journeys people go through as they navigate their experiences with death. It was a powerful performance that demonstrated Terkel’s perfect knack for capturing emotions through words. Watch Joseph’s talk here.
  • Sue Kemple of My Last Soundtrack compared life to a living, breathing soundtrack. She believes in the strong connection between music and death, as the music you associate with a person allows you to stay connected to them no matter where they go. Sue shared how music allows us to leave our legacy behind, and tells the stories about us that science cannot. As our last speaker of the night, she left us with a comforting thought: as music lives on, so do we. Watch Sue’s talk here.

Ready for more #RTP180? Our next topic is Military Tech—be sure to reserve your tickets for the November 15 event!

Thanks to presenting sponsor RTI International for enabling us to provide a platform for our community to share their knowledge. We’re also glad to have UNC-TV as our producer—if you can’t make it to an RTP180 event, you can catch the live stream beginning at 6:00PM EST the day of the show at ncchannel.org, and be sure to follow along with us on Twitter using #RTP180.