Voltaire, the great enlightenment writer and philosopher, once said, "Nobody thinks of giving an immortal soul to a flea." Now, nearly 300 years later, the mass of accumulated scientific evidence suggests we may have to.
We have a culture of silence around dying and death. It's a great taboo that fills most of us with anxiety about life's end without any way to reduce that anxiety. We all know we are going to die, yet we don't talk about it.
Have you ever noticed that when the person giving the eulogy is marching through the litany of the deceased's achievements and honors, the room flatlines? But the moment mention is made of what the deceased loved, the room comes alive.
Some siblings are lost through death, others to squabbles and disagreements. Sometimes it's minor, and sometimes it's major, although it seems to me that when you're standing over a sibling's grave, most conflicts pale in comparison.
In truth, I'm happy in the face of what I write because I have an outlet for all my feelings. My upbeat attitude has been shaped by creating a new and different conversation about loss, and the relationship I have with my readers.
Diseases and conditions that once proved quickly fatal no longer are. Instead, individuals and their families are increasingly likely to find themselves mired in a protracted process that only begins with a diagnosis.
This new grief is different. For one thing, it includes the loved one with the diagnosis. It also draws in the entire family into a prolonged crisis that some of our interviewees aptly described as "learning to live with death."