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Randy Pausch Last Lecture


Randolph Frederick Pausch was a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. He was given a terminal diagnosis of three to six months after being found with pancreatic cancer. The concept of death is brought out in the lecture as Pausch shows how people can react to death differently depending on where they find their joy and where they are in life.

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When faced with a terminal illness, there are several end-of-life choices that one finds themselves looking at. One of the end life choices that a patient is provided with is foregoing treatment since aggressive treatment may prolong the dying process. It may, under some circumstances, impair the patient’s remaining quality of life or even, in some instances, shorten their life. Foregoing treatment can result in a peaceful death, and most patients are unaware of that.

Palliative and hospice are end-of-life choices that are usually very similar but frequently confused. Palliative care recognizes that many of us eventually find ourselves in situations at the edge of hope and endurance and its primary goal is the quality of life (Kastenbaum & Moreman, 2018). Hospice seeks to boost the quality of life at the end of life. It is a form of palliative care, and it doesn’t hinder nor hasten the dying process.

When facing a terminal illness, the first thing I would do is read as much as possible about the illness and inquire from the doctors about what changes I should be expecting as the disease progresses. Having a terminal illness leaves me with little time, so I would set my priorities right and determine the most important things to me. Talking about it openly will help my family and friends not feel uncertain about what to say or how to act around me. This will also allow them to openly express their emotions and thoughts too.

Randolph Frederick Pausch’s idea of a school shows that students should enjoy what they learn, and their instructors should ensure that learning is fun for their students. This way, the students will be more interested in whatever they will be learning. Despite the many rejections Pausch got, he loved what he did, and this gave him the morale to keep on pushing in his work area. Spending quality time with one’s family should be a priority and making the most out of it because no one knows when it will be too late to spend time with them.

People react differently to death. Some undergo four stages of grief, the first being denial, where people are in disbelief that they are dying. The second stage is anger which overwhelms the individual due to the situation they find themselves in, and then the third stage is bargaining, where they try to do something to get better. The fourth and final stage that Pausch was in is acceptance. Despite having a few months to live, he was still positive about it.

Given an opportunity to give a single lecture to a large group, I would speak about the beauty of life. The wins and losses that I would have gone through, and accept death since it is inevitable for each person.

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When one is faced with death, one undergoes four stages of grief, and one needs help from family and friends on how to deal with it. During this time, one should be considerate of other people’s well-being, especially those close to them, since they too are going through a difficult time. Even when faced with death, one should have fun and always help others.


Kastenbaum, R., & Moreman, C. M. (2018). Death, society, and human experience. Routledge.

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