Grief & Coping


Why Don't Men Cry More Often?

Why do so many people in our culture still buy into the notion that “real men don’t cry”? In a recent piece on Aeon, writer Sandra Newman raises this question. And she suggests that there may be some utility in men containing their tears in certain situations. But she also points out that it’s a relatively recent concept to equate masculinity with dry eyes – an idea that’s ultimately more unhealthy than not. Newman cites scientific research showing that crying opens pathways of connection and healing in unique ways; it often includes......

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Oliver Sacks Gets Personal

When world famous neurologist Oliver Sacks, explainer of things human, writes – as he did recently about family, faith and his own impending death – it pays to pay attention. Okay, I admit, I’m biased by virtue of the fact that this amazing doctor and author was the friend and colleague of another doctor and author I respect: my late father-in-law, Dr. Harold Klawans (equally as esteemed around the world by colleagues and fans of his murder mysteries, albeit not quite as well known, as Sacks). They blurbed each other’s books, spoke......

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Another Mass Shooting in the Land of the Free

From Odyssey Networks’ Faith on the Record series: This time, it was an audience enjoying a comedy in a movie theater in Louisiana. Another mass shooting in another public place, here in the United States – adding to the long list of 2015 mass shootings in America. Many were wounded, and three lives ended, including the gunman. But the rest of us are all stuck in a cul-de-sac in this country, and none of us has the solution by ourselves. In order to forge a path to greater public safety, we need......

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The Amtrak Tragedy, and All That Faith Can't Explain

From Odyssey Networks’ Faith on the Record series: Since the Amtrak train derailed in northeast Philadelphia, I’ve been asked numerous times to answer the question, “Where was God?” I understand that not everyone is comforted?when tragic deaths are explained as part of a grand plan. But we can all be comforted by remembering “God is wherever people discover that no matter what, we are never alone.” Watch my video for more insight and discussion.     Odyssey Networks tells the stories of faith in action changing the world for the better. Their......

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From Standing By to Understanding: Black Lives Matter

I have been in and out of sleep all night. I wake automatically reaching for the remote to see if it has gotten any worse. I hold my blanket up so that only my eyes can see, pretending somehow that if I cover enough of myself, only parts of the news will infiltrate my soul. It’s too late, though. All of me is infected. All of us are infected. Baseball, the telltale sign of hope springing eternal, played in a silent Camden Yards – fans locked out for fear of violence. Curfews......

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Anguish About the Germanwings Plane: Where Was God?

From Odyssey Networks’ Faith on the Record series: As horrifying details emerge about the cause of the Germanwings plane crash, an unbearable sense of shared, collective trauma grows. “In a moment of pain, any question has to be safe to ask,” including this one: Where was God? Consider with me how those who lost loved ones may find meaning in the tragedy, in the long hours, days and years of grief that lie ahead for them. Watch my video below for more insight and discussion. Odyssey Networks tells the stories of faith......

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The Future of Funerals

How we deal with death tells us a great deal about how we think about life. No surprise there, right? More surprising: Almost all the ways that we deal with death are changing, leading to what some call the death of funerals. It’s not that funerals are going away anytime soon. But they’re certainly being redefined in profound ways. Consider the rapidly rising popularity of cremation over burial. Cremation, which once accounted for a mere 3.6% of dispositions in 1960, now accounts for almost half! In 2013, more than 45% of Americans......

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The Limits of Forgiveness?

We seem to be endlessly fascinated with the topic of forgiveness, more often about granting it or receiving it than about seeking it. But the following news video about a mother in Texas – who invited a local station’s cameras to accompany her as she confronted a remorseful drunk driver, imprisoned and awaiting trial for gravely injuring her young child – actually raises all three issues.     Although parts of the clip are hard to watch, this video report is worth a few minutes. It brings to mind these questions for......

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The Spiritual Journey of Living with Serious Illness

Toni Bernhard’s new book, How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers was recommended to me by one of my congregants who cares for a chronically ill loved one. She described Bernhard’s book as “How to be sick well” – how to achieve emotional and spiritual wellness even when one’s body remains sick. Acclaimed Jewish-Buddhist teacher Sylvia Boorstein in her introduction to the book wrote, “This book is written for people who are ill and aren’t going to get better, and also for their caregivers, people......

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What the World Needs Now Is Empathy

In reading feedback about Brittany Maynard’s physician-assisted suicide, I wondered: How much empathy do we possess, as individuals and as a culture? Do we truly even know what empathy is, and what behavior it requires of us? When Maynard went public with her decision about how and when she would end her life on November 1, 2014, I was immediately transported back to my mother’s last months in 2009. She was faced with the same cancer as Brittany, and after the 11-hour brain surgery, an inserted chemo-wafer into the brain, and a......

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