To Tell the Truth -
The Healer’s Wound: Grief Postponed
Rea L. Ginsberg, LCSW-C, ACSW, BCD
There are truths we can only tell through story.
– Jonathan Sacks, The Great Partnership
Everyone has a story. It is important and precious and unique. For the teller, it is the most important story in all the world. It is the story of personal creation. It tells the world who he is and how he got to be that way. It is a self-descriptor with a back story. No other person owns that identical story. No other person has ever lived that story or will ever have it again. It makes the teller completely unique for all time. Continue reading
The name of my book is “Bitter and Sweet, A Family’s Journey with Cancer.” Here is a brief summary. In April of 2010, my husband Tim began to have some strange sensations in his side. On May 7, we found ourselves facing stage IV gallbladder cancer rather than a simple gallbladder removal as planned. Five months and one week later, my husband died. Those five months were the most difficult and horrifying time of our lives. It was also an extremely beautiful time for us. We found ourselves using the phrase “bitter and sweet” so often during those five months, that it was an obvious title choice. What follows is the short version of our story…
Our lives had been full of paradoxes. How do you fight for your life and yet accept mortality at the same time? How do you maintain optimism, which is necessary for health, and prepare for your death and get your affairs in order? How do you understand God’s love and compassion, and yet experience cancer and suffering? Continue reading
Ok, so the ER is not the place where you can usually find ER doctors jumping for joy, but certainly stranger things have happened there…so, why not? Continue reading
Last week we introduced the idea of ”fighting” or “embracing” death. We examined the definitions of death and dying, as well as the scientific, pharmaceutical, technological, TV-Hollywood, and musical contributions to our stereotypes. Now, let’s look at some of the remaining sources of death stereotypes, and read the author’s compelling personal story led to his present approach to life and death. Continue reading
“Only with death is the story of our lives complete”
~Monica Williams-Murphy, MD
A Eulogy, the recitation of ones life story, is a powerful tool for transformation and growth among survivors. Perhaps, the writer of the eulogy experiences the greatest growth from penning the words. Below is a freshly-written eulogy by one of our readers. Beautiful, simple, even poetic. Afterwards, a short praise of the eulogy and legacy is discussed. Continue reading
We live on a farm. My kids have seen chickens “born” and chickens die. Some of our chickens have died of old age, some of our chickens have been eaten by the dog, and some of our chickens have been eaten by us. My middle daughter casually calls this “the cycle of life.” Continue reading
Buddhist tradition says that when an enlightened one dies there’s an opportunity for enlightenment for all of those present. In my personal opinion, when anyone dies, there’s an opportunity for enlightenment for those remaining.
Death ends a life, not a relationship.
— Morrie Schwartz Continue reading
I turn 43 on New Year’s Eve, not that you really care, but it does convey a certain perspective to be ending your year in two different ways.
So, as a general rule there are two things for sure with me:
1st- I always work in the ER on my birthday (it’s far more interesting than any party I have ever attended and I get paid to show up!)
2nd- I never make New Years resolutions. Continue reading
Her skin was smooth and unblemished. She had the legs of a dancer and wore a pair of well used running shoes. Her hair was delicately curled, a pale blonde hue. Her firm mounding breasts, which were pointing toward the ceiling, undulated under the pulsations of the Lucas Chest compression device (see this sample video). Continue reading
(If you are not religious or are atheist, please do not be dissuaded from reading this article by the title:)
We just had a member of our congregation die relatively unexpectedly. He was in his early 50s and a father of 6. (That’s a big equation.)
My religious job is to teach our youth (teenager) Sunday School class, when I am not working in the ER or traveling to lecture. So, in this regard, today was like most other Sundays- I had gotten up early to prepare my lesson for the day. The problem was, the lesson wasn’t relevant for the day…meaning the death of this man was on everyone’s mind, and two of his children were in my class. Continue reading
I sat in silence wrestling with myself, shifting in my seat, as my husband drove down the road. He pointed out some beautiful fall foliage. I looked at the trees but could not appreciate the scenery due to my turmoil. All I could think about was how uncomfortable I was with my father’s hospital discharge plan and how fractured end of life healthcare planning is in some states (specifically, states without a POLST form), states such as mine, Alabama. Since becoming active in advocating for better end of life healthcare planning, I have been a supporter of the POLST for lots of obvious reasons- but most basically, it ensures that the medical system obeys the wishes of the patient or the acting healthcare proxy. I have known abstractly how important such a document is for my patients. But now, a new personal knowledge is dawning for me—I now know firsthand how the LACK of a POLST or POLST-like document actually LIMITS healthcare options for those who are near the end of life! Continue reading
If you don’t like the way the world is, you change it.
You have the obligation to change it.
You just do it one step at a time.
— Marian Wright Edelman
He looked dead. The paramedics brought him down the hall toward one of my critical care beds, and for a moment I thought the patient was dead. He was nearly the same color as the pale sheet covering his thin frame. His cheeks were sunken in and his eyes were gazing upward, in what I sometimes call the “death stare.” Then, surprisingly, he moved his arm upward to push his oxygen mask off of his face, resting it atop his head like one would wear a pair of glasses not in use. Continue reading