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.

Becoming Something Different

In Tibetan Buddhism the word “bardo” refers to a transition or a gap between the completion of one situation and the beginning of another. That gap can occur between life and death, ignorance and understanding, or in the case of speech-language pathology, between who we were and what we are becoming.

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.

Prostate Cancer Research Funding and Male Vanity

As someone who’s living with prostate cancer, I applauded Louis Gossett Jr.’s testimony in Congress on the importance of prostate cancer research funding. If congress was listening, maybe I’ll live long enough for something else to kill me. But according to the American Cancer Society statistics, I shouldn’t hold my breath.

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...

Faces of Grief

Although there are many approaches to grief counseling, most focus directly on the grief we experience over the death of a loved one. But what about the unexplainable, and often embarrassing grief experienced over the death of someone we never knew?

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.