Kathy Kortes-Miller is an unconventional educator, palliative care specialist, and researcher with a flair for talking about death and dying - and she talks about it a lot! A protector and advocate of people’s stories, Kathy combines years of teaching and research with empathy and personal experience to bring conversations about death and dying to the forefront, where they belong. In Kathy’s world, death and dying is not the “elephant in the room,” but is an integral part of life that deserves and demands acknowledgement, respect, and even a bit of lightheartedness (when called for).
Check out my TEDx talk!
Where Kathy's been speaking recently:
Hospice Palliative Care Ontario
Centre for Education and Research on Aging and Health Annual Conference Keynote
Matthew's House Hospice
Hospice Northwest Die-alogues
Northern Ontario School of Medicine
New Connections and Community Practices: What’s Next for Public Health Palliative Care? with Kerrie Noonan (Australia)Ottawa, ON: Closing Plenary: International Public Health Palliative Care Conference,
EO Dubai, Dubai, UAE: Dying Matters
EO Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland: A Matter of Life in Death
Global Leadership Conference (GLC), Bangkok, Thailand, May 13-14: Talking About Death Won't Kill You!
Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association Learning Institute. Banff, AB. June, 2016
International Public Health Palliative Care Conference, Bristol, England, May 15th, 2015: Talking About Death Won't Kill You
Canadian Association for Palliative Care, Ottawa, ON, Oct, 2015: Challenge Panel with Dr. Denise Marshall: Palliative Care is Everyone's Business
Centre for Education and Research on Aging and Health, Thunder Bay, ON, Nov. 2015: Keynote, Nov. 2015
Interview on the Current CBC with Anna Maria Tremonti (April 2017)
Interview on CBC Superior North (March 2017)
Interview with CBC Superior North (June 2016)
TEDx Talk: Talking about Death Won’t Kill You (March, 2016)
Speaking Topic Examples
Each topic can be customized for the audience and presented as a TED-style talk, keynote, workshop, training, or break out session.
Talking About Death Won’t Kill You
In this TED-style talk, Kathy infuses tenderness into a topic that is all too frequently charged with fear, approached with grim stoicism, or avoided at all costs. Using stories and research laced with her unique brand of compassion and humor, Kathy extends an engraved invitation to view death as not a taboo subject - but rather a shared life experience. Audience members walk away with shifted perspectives and a deep understanding that talking about death, without knowing or needing all the “answers”, actually brings us closer to our loved ones than we ever imagined possible.
Good Grief! Sometimes It’s Complicated
Every palliative care team member’s role includes grief support. This workshop examines what “good” grief support looks like, how it’s experienced, and includes a healthy (and necessary) debunking of myths and conceptions that pervade this complex topic. Using a facilitation style that is simultaneously irreverent and respectful, Kathy guides participants to discern the differences between grief support, grief counselling, and grief therapy. Participants walk away with a strong grasp of how to use the foundational principles of grief, mourning and bereavement to shape and influence the attitudes and values they bring to their work.
Taking Care Of Those Who Care
This candid workshop supports palliative care professionals to care for themselves while nurturing the profound sense of meaning they derive from their work. Kathy’s skillful facilitation style guides participants to extend empathy and compassion to themselves. Participants learn techniques to manage compassion fatigue, moral distress, and avoid burnout - while also celebrating the reward inherent in the unique personal reasons they choose to do this work. A must for any professional desiring to do palliative care work, and do it well, for the long term.
Stop, Look and Listen: Communicating Care
This talk advocates for strong, clear, caring communication by healthcare professionals. Combining personal stories with vast research and classroom experience, Kathy takes participants through the range of skills and interactions that underpin effective communication.
Participants walk away:
Understanding why timely communication is important (for them and the people they care for.
Knowing how to discern and manage barriers to effective communication.
With a deeper understanding of their own communication skills, strengths, and needs.
Healthcare providers who want to consistently communicate caring into the flow of their work, in a way that feels natural and benefits those under their care should attend this workshop.
“Kathy has so many qualities that make her one of our centre’s favourite, and most highly requested, public speakers ever. She is charismatic, engaging, knowledgeable, and always responsive to the needs of the group. She has a wonderful, contagious sense of humour, yet is also empathetic, sincere, and able to effectively deliver her intended message at the same time. I would highly recommend Kathy for any speaking engagement.”
Stephanie Hendrickson, Lead Palliative Care Education Planner, Centre for Education and Research on Aging & Health (CERAH), Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, ON
“Kathy Kortes Miller has a unique style of engaging participants in her presentations. Her sharp wit becomes evident very quickly yet her message is a challenge to the assumptions and values of her audience, so one invariably finds that a subtle shift in perspective has happened. She has a powerful gift of being able to “read” the room and is able to monitor the responses of her listeners and work right along with them to deliver her message effectively. Kathy has fun with ideas and she infects the room with her vivacious approach to life and death.”
Joan Williams, Executive Director, Hospice Northwest, Thunder Bay, ON
Death and dying is not an easy subject to tackle. People often fear to talk about it. After all, losing someone dear to us can be excruciatingly painful. And painful is difficult to talk about.
I believe we need more conversations on emotions, including the most difficult ones, such as holding space for someone who is leaving the physical world.
Kathy tackles this tough subject with grace and eloquence. She combines her academic expertise with the purely vulnerable and human side of her. Having faced a scary diagnosis herself, Kathy shares not only her own experiences but the experiences of countless people who are facing death, and those who support them in the process; whether healthcare workers or family members.
When we let go of fearful thoughts, we can become fully present. And we can become present even in the most challenging moments. When we become fully present, we find peace within ourselves. When we find peace in ourselves, we offer the most valuable gift to the dying person; the gift of peace.
Kathy’s ability to talk about death and dying with honesty and sincerity, offers an invaluable gift to all of us.
Edita Atteck Coach | Art of Being Mentor | Speaker
Kathy Kortes-Miller masterfully makes death and dying a subject you want to run away from to one you want to run towards. Channeling deep wisdom gleaned from her vast experience as a self-described "unconventional death educator", academic and palliative care advocate, Kathy is transforming the way we speak about death. Through her accessible, at times wildly funny delivery style, Kathy provides a clear blueprint for how we can identify and articulate our desires for our final days, and how we can have transparent, heartfelt conversations about death in our families, workplaces and communities.
Alexia Vernon, Public Speaking and Leadership Speaker, Author, Coach, Trainer & Media Personality
Kathy’s presentations reflect her creativity, humour, and straight forward refreshing approach to talking about death. Over the years I have been fortunate to attend several workshops and oral presentations that Kathy has given. She has a well-developed ability to adapt content and delivery to meet the unique needs of the group. Kathy is approachable, real, and personable… and her participants bask in that, and feel safe to grow and learn.
Kath Murray, Founder Life and Death Matters, Author “Integrating a Palliative Approach: Essentials for Personal Support Workers”, Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse, Thanatologist, Victoria, BC
To request Kathy Kortes-Miller as a speaker for your company, conference, professional association or campus, please contact with your booking request.