Category Archives: Begining with the End in Mind

To the extent it is possible, we should plan out, organize and groom the end of life for all of its gifts.



Listen in as we discuss: personal stories of dying loved ones, why you should not show up to the ER without an advance directive, reasons that Americans avoid conversations about death, how the Declaration of Independence is relevant to end of life discussions, how to have a “good death”….and much, much more…

Listen here–Blog Talk Radio Interview by Audrey Pellicano, New York Death Cafe Hostess and Grief Specialist


“Great show! Thank you both very much for sharing such powerful and needed information and for getting it into a book that is not only personal but offers so much practical information.
Let’s keep the conversation going!”
Audrey Pellicano R.N.,M.S.  CEO Wise Widow Grief Recovery Specialist |

In 1918, if your little brother died in the influenza epidemic, it’s likely that you would have cared for him as he died, at home, and after he died, at home.

In the early 1900s, my grandmother helped care for her own mother in her own home, as she died of cancer. After she died, the family built a coffin and buried her.

This has been the normal pattern of dying and after-death care for all of human history until very recently, as death has become transformed into a life-cyle event which is managed by specialists. Continue reading

Not to be outdone, my friends in the UK boldly move British Society closer to thinking more openly and practically about death and dying-and we are honored to have shared our end-of-life preparation checklists for the development of this online campaign, Be Ready for It (created and endorsed by the Norfolk and Suffolk Palliative Care Academy, part of the NHS).

According to project lead, Maggie Parsons, in a recent eHospice interview, “Dying well is a natural part of a good life…and needs to be put into the conext of life planning. It’s something people should be thinking about when they have a baby, get married or retire.” The website makes such planning easy and accessible.

Congratulations to Maggie, and the whole team for such a wonderful job. We wish you all success!

Be sure to check out this very inviting site and download the information and checklists for yourself or someone you love:

May we all “be ready for it”!

~Monica Williams-Murphy, MD

Standing up from my computer terminal to go see another patient, I caught a glimpse of a small, spindly frail woman being rolled by paramedics into one of my shock and trauma rooms.

Very calmly, I remarked, “That woman is dying.”

The medical student who was rotating with me was unnerved that I would make such a pronouncement out of a mere casual observance, “Oh my goodness! How can you just say that?” Continue reading

Death and Power

Tuesday, 25 Jun 2013 00:54

I spend a lot of my time asking myself questions which explore the relationship between death and power. One of those questions is: How can people gain power over the processes and decisions involved in death, dying and the end of life? (Without opting for suicide or euthanasia) Continue reading

My Favorite Way to Die: A multiple choice test

Thursday, 20 Jun 2013 06:34

Now this is definitely a weird topic but here goes:

I have cared for people who have died in almost every way imaginable. I have seen people die from decapitation, a hole shot through the heart, and those who have “simply” fallen over dead from a sudden heart attack. Those are quick but possibly painful ways to “go.” In contrast, I have cared for those who have slowly died over the course of years: Alzheimers, where the brain is dying long before the body catches up; Emphysema, where the lungs slowly lose their wind, to name a few of the chronic disease-pathways to death. Continue reading

Dad didn’t feel like dying. He felt full of life and longing to live. He had more to do, more to say, more to feel, to taste, to write, to experience. He was angry and sad, disappointed and confused, scared and brave, unaccepting and, finally, accepting.

For the past three years, I talked to him daily to be as close as I could. I listened as he told me everything he could think of about his day; he often told me the same things twice. Our time together was coming to an end, and although we didn’t know when that would happen, we knew it was coming sooner than we wished.

Continue reading