What Makes You Think You’ll Live Forever?

The opening line of the pamphlet was straightforward: Join us in a workshop where you will experience your own death. Six months prior, I would have thought it an interesting exercise. But having received a diagnosis of “aggressive prostate cancer,” it had the relevance of a guidebook for an upcoming trip.

Dying the Way We Live

People who were dying in the Middle Ages said their goodbyes, gave away the furniture, and just stopped breathing. The non-event was witnessed by friends and family, who, at the moment of death absconded with anything of value. Later, they might gather to either celebrate or deride the person’s life. Today, although we rarely fight over furniture, we do something worse.

Memories: A Call to Reconnect

Did you ever have a memory that rode into your consciousness on the back of a passing odor, object, or random word? Something you desperately tried to forget? But despite your best efforts, it still seeped through your emotional protective wall as if the wall was made of cheesecloth.

Dying Stands Logic on its Head

We often harshly judge behaviors we don't understand. They can involve someone's ingratitude, anger, or actions we label as foolish. I recently was guilty of the same thing here in the San Francisco Bay area with one of my hospice patients.

Cudos to 60 Minutes

The 60 Minutes segment on end of life expenses did more than highlight inappropriate medical costs. It spoke to the role of medical technology in our cultural denial of death. As medical technology becomes...

The Hard Work of Dying

Imagine that you’re preparing for a thirty-day trip to a foreign country and you’re limited to taking only what can be carried in a backpack. Your decisions on what to take or leave behind will determine the quality of your experience. Too many items and the weight will be burdensome. Not enough of the right ones and you might be forced to neglect some basic needs. We make decisions of this type daily. Take what’s important, leave behind what isn’t. But we tend to oblivious to the importance of these decisions for possibly the most momentous journey of our lives—our death.