Grief & Coping


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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Gratitude The Greatest Medicine?

Substituting for a colleague who leads a grief group, this reflection on coping was shared by someone in the group. Written by Dr. Murray Feingold, it suggests that by focusing on how fortunate we are to have had lost love ones in our lives, we can help ourselves to feel better about the loss. But is that true? For me, the answer is yes… and no.? That response will probably not surprise any TWD readers who have followed my reflections on how I have dealt with my dad’s death, and here is......

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Songwriting: Saving Veterans Lives

Darden Smith is an innovator of the human spirit. I met this charismatic, humble, talented, Texas musician / singer / songwriter a couple of months ago at the BIF10 innovation summit where with guitar in hand, he told his story of how the pursuit of the song has kept him on this planet. Smith, known for his story telling lyrics, weaving folk and Americana influences with rock, pop, and the musical roots of Texas, founded a unique organization called SongwritingWith:Soldiers, which gives military men and women suffering from PTSD the opportunity to......

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Glen Campbell Sings Poignantly of Loss and Healing

Glen Campbell’s newest, and likely last, song will make you cry and give you comfort, especially if like me, you know people with Alzheimer’s Disease, or other forms of dementia. Titled “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”, the song invites us to think deeply about what it is we really mourn as we see a loved one drift out of the world. Is it their pain, or ours? I wrestled with that question a lot as my father was dying, and wrestle with it still as others I love suffer with dementia. How......

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Video: Is Suicide Always Wrong?

From Odyssey Networks’ Faith on the Record series: This week, 29-year-old Brittany Maynard announced that she will be ending her life on November 1. Maynard has an aggressive form of brain cancer and has received a terminal diagnosis. Rather than putting her family and herself through the ordeal of a painful and drawn-out death, she has chosen physician assisted suicide, which is legal in Oregon. Sometimes, like in the case of Brittany Maynard, it may be that choosing to end one’s life is actually in its own way an affirmation of life......

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The Illusion That We Suffer Alone

Years ago, during the time that my father was struggling with Alzheimer’s, I happened to catch an interview with the son of Christopher Reeve on television. He was overjoyed that his dad had been able to move his pinkie, a feat he’d not accomplished before. I watched, in awe, as this son described in triumphant detail how amazing it was what his father had done. It put my own pain and struggle into immediate perspective. Thinking about this today reminded me that no matter what kind of burden we may be carrying,......

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Video: Robin Williams, Suicide and Shame

From Odyssey Networks’ Faith on the Record series: The death by suicide of Robin Williams earlier this week shocked his fans around the world. It also focused attention on suicide and the discomfort we all feel about the disease that leads to it. We’re not ashamed of having cancer, we’re not ashamed of having ALS or any other devastating disease. But there’s a lot of shame associated with emotional illness. Watch my video commentary below for more… Odyssey Networks tells the stories of faith in action changing the world for the better.......

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