Support for Death With Dignity from across the ocean is encouraging. And when it comes from Desmond Tutu it carries a particularly gratifying weight.
The death of two parents spread over such a chasm of time reassures me that I have grown up. had feared the brutal spectacle and harsh rattle of death. I had feared being alone with her at the final judgmental moment of leaving, feared I would abandon her and not offer a last comfort, that split second of reassurance as she left. Yet none of those fears came true.
One of the greatest lessons in life is that everything is impermanent. All things come and go. We live in such a structured society, where everything is broken down into steps or organized in a rational way. But there is no rationalizing grief.
Going back to school is a tough time for bereaved parents and siblings. Leaving the familiar and going to a new experience or even going back to a setting or school one has already attended can be tough.
I laid there in the dark for a moment, almost upset that I'd read it. I didn't want to go. I didn't want to be there for this -- the end. I didn't want to see my dad like that. I didn't want to do any of this.
When someone you love loses a baby, you may feel helpless and uncertain about how to respond. And you might not get it right. If you've never experienced such a loss yourself, how can you know what your friend or family member needs at this terrible time?
I realize nothing can replace a face-to-face goodbye. But I believe the digital clues I've been able to piece together give me the memories I need, and I'm grateful that I was able to witness his life -- even in death.
I can still picture the bright Sunday afternoon my friend Melissa, also known as "Aunt Melissa," surprised us with the red betta fish.
As a bereavement counselor, it is my job to help create a safe space to give voice to the unspeakable, and to companion others in their grief journey as they travel into the wilderness of their soul in search of their own inner knowing and truth.
Was I scared to leave a steady paycheck, long-term boyfriend, friends and family to travel the world for a month with a lifesize cutout of my late father? ABSOLUTELY. Do I regret doing it? Absolutely not.
I don't want to die. I am healthy and active and merely 61-years-old. My 86-year-old father is a nationally ranked tennis player, reinforcing the belief that if I keep eating and living well, my genes will take me past 90. So, until now, I felt justified in postponing writing a will. Everything involved in creating one seemed hellish to ponder.
I could pretend, but that pretending cost me. I could be reasonable, but telling that lie was exhausting. Now, when I read about grief, when I attend conferences that talk about grief, I think about those early days. I think about being reasonable. I think of how ridiculous that is.
You will likely always long for their physical presence, but recognizing that you still have a relationship is one way to soothe the sorrow. Staying connected fortifies you so that you can engage with life, connect to the living, and make meaning out of your loss.
Perpetually busy, we lose ourselves in endless tasks. Then, all of a sudden, the universe hits us with a reminder. For me, the past month has been that reminder.
Tonight, my mother and my brother moved the bed out of her guest room. Tomorrow morning, a truck will deliver a hospital bed to take its place. And sometime after that, an ambulance with my father in tow will make the trek from the hospital to my mother's and father's home.
Not every doctor gets an extended view of what his or her patients experience, and some who do fail to get the message. But one who did -- and has shared both the experience and its message(s) is a recently recovered friend and end-of-life issues colleague .
I did not think JFK would be different from any other airport I have traveled through in the recent months. Hey, look! They all have three letters: BOS, SFO, CLT, RIC, SBA, ETC. My famous battle cry, "How hard can it be?!?!" showed me just how hard it can be.
As my cousin Carol's condition worsened, she asked her own questions. "How do I want to be remembered? How do I handle my unresolved issues? What messages do I want to leave for my loved ones?" Together we embarked on a sacred journey filled with meaningful moments and a lot of hard work.
Melissa's experience compels her to now speak candidly to the public. She offers this frank advice and reassurance to grievers.
Even though people grieve in many individual ways and need different types of support, there are common feelings and behaviors that most people exhibit in a continuum. I found that emotional states after the loss of a spouse had enough similarities that they were worth examining further.