“The most significant variable of a relatively uncomplicated bereavement period or a prolonged and
tragic mourning depends to a great deal on the relationship the child and the parent had, on the old unresolved conflicts they carried within, and on the level of communication they had. Last but not least is the mourner’s early experiences with death and loss.”
~Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, MD
She cried as she held the baby bird. I cried as I held her (my daughter), after all she was my baby
My daughter’s attempt at rescuing and feeding the baby bird who had fallen out of it’s nest had failed. The bird had become weak and then collapsed this morning during feeding. Now it was dying. Continue reading
“To every thing there is a season…”
I am highly tied to the earth. Living purposefully on a lonesome mountain (more like a hill), I almost feel like a participant in the season’s changes.
Within the cycles of nature I also witness the cycles of humanity, even the cycles of our personal lives. Trees change their shrouds just as time traces itself upon our faces and the hairs of our heads. Imagining winter, just like imagining my own demise, gives me a breathless appreciation for the present- for the deepening red of the leaf and for the smell of my child’s curly hair. Viewing the natural world and viewing our own lives with the end in mind awakens a deep reverence for the very act of living itself, and the opportunity to do so.
I have found that when we are not observant of the cycles of nature and the natural cycles of the human life, we become unseated at some deep level. Something feels awry.
Once I saw an old man, in the deep winter of his life. Despite his physical appearance- that of old, dead wood- he was receiving aggressive chemotherapy in desperate attempts to recover just a little bit of spring, a touch of summer, or at least a smidge of late fall. I grieved for him. Something was awry.
We cannot supplant the seasons and love them at the same time. We must learn to love and respect the seasons of our lives and to be one with them- only then can we know of their gifts.
Monica Williams-Murphy, MD
Let me tell you about my dear landlady, Sue, as she prepared to die a natural and family supported death last week: Continue reading
The Baby Boomers, the largest generation in American history, are now almost all in the last 1/3 of their lives (if average life expectancy is 78). They have spent the previous, early and middle thirds of their lives transforming cultural ideas, expectations and practices (e.g with the Civil Rights movement, Environmental movement and Women’s movement, etc).
The question now is: “Will the Baby Boomers also transform our cultural ideas, expectations, and practices regarding the End-of-Life?”
I, for one, say “YES!” Here are my predictions and recommendations for this generation of “revolutionaries”:
1. Baby Boomers expect to live longer and will seek out technologies to do so.
We continue to see life expectancies extended (although the obesity problem may soon change that) and the Boomers will focus on ways to further extend their years on the planet. I strongly recommend however that they seek technologies that will extend quality life rather than quantity alone. For example: Take supplements designed to keep your cells in tip-top shape for as long as possible so that you can run around, play tennis, chase your grandchildren, and read a good book at sunset, but do not choose medical interventions that will prolong your days if those days are going to consist of lying in a bed, unable to poop or pee without assistance. Choose technology that creates quality alone, quality plus quantity, but never quantity only, at the expense of suffering. Continue reading