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Janice Van Dyck
Author and former corporate communications specialist Janice M. Van Dyck knows quite a bit about change, starting over, and making the best of new beginnings. Her novels explore themes of life transitions.

"The Illusion of Secondhand Smoke" (September 2012, Winston-Higgins Press) is a psychological suspense novel about a gay teenager in the 1970s and the friends who feel responsible for his murder. It's set in Levittown, Pennsylvania, where Van Dyck grew up, and explores the life choices that define us.

Her award-winning novel, "Finding Frances" (2010), asks the question: “How much control do we have over the terms of our own death?” It has been praised by the caretaking and medical communities, for which Van Dyck has been a frequent speaker and writer. Van Dyck’s acclaimed debut novel, "The O'Malley Trilogy" (2006), was praised by Writer's Digest and The Florida Writers' Association for its compassionate portrayal of the mother-daughter relationship.

Passionate about deep understanding, clarity and the art of being human, Van Dyck lives in Florida with her family and two dogs. Her website is

Entries by Janice Van Dyck

Do You Have a Duty to Perform CPR?

(7) Comments | Posted March 7, 2013 | 11:18 AM

An 87-year-old woman drops to the floor. An ambulance is called but no one performs CPR while they wait for it. She dies. Is it a crime? A tragedy? Did she have a civil right to receive CPR? Did onlookers have a...

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Bridezilla vs. Her Mummy: Whose Wedding Is It, Anyway?

(6) Comments | Posted February 27, 2013 | 10:15 AM

The difference between mother of the bride and mother-in-law comes down to just one day. With some advance mental planning, you can be a Mum who doesn't bring out the Bridezilla in your stressed-out daughter. If you use the opportunity to transition your relationship with her, you might -- believe...

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When Your Loved Ones Hold Your Life in Their Hands

(2) Comments | Posted April 16, 2012 | 11:01 AM

Imagine your life partner was in a coma, and the doctors tell you he is probably never going to come back. Would you stop his life-sustaining care if it were up to you?

If your wife suffered from advanced dementia and needed life-saving heart surgery, would you authorize it?...

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Gratitude Is Thanks on Steroids

(1) Comments | Posted November 23, 2011 | 6:01 PM

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."
-- Albert Schweitzer

Of course we're thankful for our turkeys and our mashed potatoes....

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What Steve Jobs and Baby Joseph Maraachli Teach Us About a 'Good Death'

(2) Comments | Posted October 6, 2011 | 7:13 PM

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose." -- Steve Jobs in his 2005 Stanford University commencement address

It is with great sympathy that I read about the recent passings of Steve Jobs and...

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What's The Perfect Age To Be A Mother?

(76) Comments | Posted October 4, 2011 | 8:37 AM

I saw them again in the grocery store checkout line: MTV's Teen Moms. The show's about how tough it is to be a teen mother, but two of them smiled at me from the cover of yet another tabloid. They're bona fide celebrities. Over 4 million people watch the show....

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Go Ahead. It's Okay to Die

(23) Comments | Posted September 16, 2011 | 7:10 PM

From the time we learn to walk, we learn to let go of what is known and try for a potentially greater reward. We learn that making decisions that are right for us is one of life's greatest satisfactions. It can be scary to take steps away, to live or...

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In Praise of Stepfamilies

(2) Comments | Posted August 11, 2011 | 12:19 PM

In the US and the UK, it's estimated that there are more stepfamilies than nuclear families. In other developed countries like Australia and Canada, the figures are not as high but they are on the climb.

Stepparents have bad reputations. Just ask...

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Dying in Cyberspace ... Are You Ready to Link In?

(3) Comments | Posted July 11, 2011 | 4:45 PM

Osama Bin Laden's death was tweeted 2.2 million times in the first few hours. But it doesn't take supervillain status for a death to make news on a social media network.

Last year when my neighbor was dying, her husband set up a webpage on CaringBridge....

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How to Vacation with Your Parents

(1) Comments | Posted June 20, 2011 | 2:40 PM

All parents have one thing in common: they're getting older. So how do you spent time together and still enjoy it? The secret is you.

My father and I vacationed together on a cruise ship recently. One evening, while Dad and I said goodnight and made plans for the morning,...

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Ten Terrible Truths About Weight Loss

(5) Comments | Posted June 19, 2011 | 6:00 PM

Help! It's bathing suit season and thousands of us are wondering how to lose ten pounds before vacation. We know the official guidance -- two pounds a week, a balanced diet, additional exercise, behavior change, just say no, blah blah. Everybody knows all that. Although no one talks...

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Reflections on Jack Kevorkian: Who Owns Death?

(115) Comments | Posted June 4, 2011 | 10:27 AM

We all value our freedom to live by our own measure. Do you think we should have the freedom to die that way as well?

I keep promising myself and my family that I'm done writing about death and dying. But then something happens -- like the How To Die...

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Dying with Dignity In Oregon

(9) Comments | Posted May 22, 2011 | 7:00 AM

I'm looking forward to watching Peter Richardson's controversial documentary, "How to Die in Oregon," debuting on HBO May 26. The acclaimed film took best documentary at this year's Sundance Film Festival. In it, the filmmaker offers a galvanizing exposure to real people who plan to use Oregon's Death with Dignity...

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Narrative Medicine: Patient-Centered, Touchy-Feely Health Care

(5) Comments | Posted May 20, 2011 | 9:09 AM

Narrative medicine offers a path to offer more treatment choices that include palliative care, hospice and alternative therapies in addition to aggressive technological solutions.

Annette Prince, director of the Oklahoma Palliative Care Resource Center and clinical assistant professor at the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center, brings

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Don't Tell Me I'm Like My Mother... Yet

(1) Comments | Posted May 8, 2011 | 2:49 PM

By my measure, the mother-daughter relationship is the toughest one in humanity. What could be more complex? Two women -- one with wisdom, the other with a lot to learn -- and neither of them willing to learn from each other. Mother? Daughter? I'm not saying which is which, or...

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Death and Taxes: National Healthcare Decisions Day Is April 16

(2) Comments | Posted April 14, 2011 | 4:29 PM

"Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."
--Benjamin Franklin in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, 13 November 1789

Every April we think of Ben Franklin's well-worn quote. That's...

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Talking About Death: We All Want To, We Just Don't Know How

(29) Comments | Posted April 8, 2011 | 8:52 AM

There's more to life
than living
and more to
than dying.

Writing a novel about death has changed my life. I never set out to be an expert or a spokesperson on the topic. I'm not worthy of being a confidant to people I hardly know. Yet...

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Skeletons in the Closet: Death as the Last Taboo

(46) Comments | Posted March 4, 2011 | 7:50 AM

Forward-thinker Dr. Timothy Leary first said, "[D]eath is the last taboo." He was right, but it doesn't have to be that way. Let's pick it up, spin it all around, look at all its facets, and then set it on the shelf right out there in the living room.

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'Death Panels' and Patients' Choice: How Should We Talk About Dying?

(32) Comments | Posted January 25, 2011 | 7:54 AM

Death panels. Pro-lifers. Euthanasia. Rationed healthcare. Pharmaceutical greed. FDA bureaucracy. As costs and ethics battle it out in rhetoric, we still can't have a real debate about patient choice at the end of life.

A new Medicare provision quietly became effective January 1 and was repealed four...

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Letting Mom and Dad Live on Their Own Terms

(91) Comments | Posted January 14, 2011 | 7:55 AM

Millions of us went home for the holidays. Well, not "home" exactly. In reality, millions of us left home, and went back for the holidays. Back to who we used to be, back to where we came from, and in some cases, back in time. Like salmon up the river,...

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