Tag: Dying


Grieving Loss Before a Death

I foolishly thought burying my almost 91-year old father would have been easier than what my siblings and I went through in saying goodbye to my mother who died prematurely at the age of 68, five years ago. After all, my mother was supposed to live long enough to see my still small children grow, become Bar/Bat Mitzvah, graduate and perhaps, get married. No, she died at an age which nowadays is considered young. Her loss was devastating. It took a lot of time and work to integrate her death into my......

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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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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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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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The Courage to Live, the Courage to Die

How do you live well? And when the times comes, how do you die well? There is no single or simple answer to either of those questions, but there is real wisdom that can help us all to answer those questions better. This story in the New York Times and its accompanying video (see below) describe, with exquisite poignancy, different patients’ experiences in a long-term care hospital, i.e., a place where people may reside for years, but very few of whom will ever recover from the terminal diagnoses which brought them there.......

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Gratitude for a Life Well Lived

Yesterday, I buried a friend and teacher of many years. She was older, but hardly “old,” at least not from my perspective. Sadly, she had an unusually limited amount of time in which to deal with her impending death. In fact, the duration from diagnosis to demise was exactly five weeks. In those weeks, however, she continued her role as a brave teacher, living life well and wisely. From the very beginning of the 35-day process, her dying was marked by two repeated sentiments. The first was that it really was a......

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Nelson Mandela: From Mourning To Memory

How do you move from mourning to memory?? How do you begin to make the shift from acknowledging and honoring the pain of a loss, to building and celebrating the memory of the one who is gone?? These are the questions which all of us who care about Nelson Mandela will need to begin asking and answering in the weeks and months ahead. How we mourn is fundamentally something which comes right from the heart.? Whatever rituals and practices shape our mourning, from ancient to just invented, all work best when they......

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Planning a Good Death

The term “good death” may be an oxymoron.? After all, how can death be good?? For starters, try going through the dying process with someone living in terrible pain – physical, psychological or both – and you will quickly learn that, as a doctor friend of mine who specializes in palliative care once said, many things happen every day in the hospital and in the home which are worse than death.? And if that doesn’t suggest that death can be good, it surely lets us know that it can be better than......

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Dying a 'Good' Death

Truly caring for a person at the end of life requires conversations – about love and legacy, about bestowing and receiving blessings, about choosing life versus fighting death. I am a well-educated man, a rabbi who was trained and has experience in comforting individuals on their sickbeds.? My five younger brothers, also have good educations, some of us have multiple degrees.? Yet when my mother was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer five years ago and told she had 12 weeks to live, neither my family nor I was prepared. We listened......

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