Dr. Ira Byock Talks about
How to Die Well

Posted on Nov 13, 2013 in Facing One's Own Death


NPR Radio Series On Being: Contemplating Mortality

This week Krista Tippett interviews Dr. Ira Byock, physician, early advocate for hospice and author of several books focused on end of life issues. Byock talks about his maturing view of death and his evolving belief that we need to get back to accepting death as more than a medical experience.

Other topics explored in the interview:

  • Death is not usually a medical mistake.
  • Dying isn’t simply to be suffered; rather it is a gritty difficult unwanted vulnerable and valuable human experience.
  • We need to understand the distinction between healing and curing, and that a person can be well as they die.
  • If we can be present with the dying experience of another, we are sharing a sacred experience.
  • The four most important sentences in any language are:
    • “I forgive you.”
    • “ Please forgive me.”
    • “Thank you.”
    • “ I love you.”

Listen to the full 51 minute interview.

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For Those Experiencing Fresh Grief

Posted on Oct 8, 2013 in Fresh Grief, General Grief

woman_cryingI often hear my clients say: “Why should I care about my health when I’m not sure I care to live?”

Because I am asking you to care, that’s why. And, further, I want you to agree to something else as well.

I can hear the pushback: “I no longer have a sense of purpose, little matters, nothing motivates me, I can’t move and I have lost my appetite”

Yes, and you are most likely numb and disoriented as well. Understand that I am not going to ask you to get motivated or reconnect to life.

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The Moth – Satori Shakhoor

Posted on Oct 6, 2013 in Child Loss, Parent Loss


Performer Satori Shakoor talks about how she came to life after her mother and son died within a 9-month period.

This post features one of the live performances from NY’s McArthur Award-winning The Moth Series.  Some of the presentations take your breath away. Here is Shakoor’s story of loss told through the lens of humor.

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I Wear My Father’s Coat

Posted on Sep 27, 2013 in Parent Loss

bigstock-Male-Long-Overcoat-9048025“Wearing my father’s coat. He has died. I didn’t like him, but I wear the coat.”

The poet, Marc Smith, delivers his poem “Wearing My Father’s Coat” in the video below. It is a surprisingly honest commentary on the kind of ambivalent grief many of us experience after the death of a parent.

Have you ever said to yourself, “I hated it when my mother (or dad) did such and such” and yet you find yourself “wearing their coat?”

Why do we emulate what we disliked about a parent? Best answer: because our early life depended upon it. The truth is your parents’ life strategies and perspectives needed to be “right” – and remain unquestioned – in order for you to feel safe as a child.

But you are now grown up.

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Difference Between Grief and Clinical Depression

Posted on Sep 18, 2013 in General Grief


The role of anti-depressants

Contemporary society is addicted to speed, and sometimes I find I am just as bad as the next person. Unfortunately our current addiction doesn’t just encompass such things as fast computers, fast food and fast trains. It also includes fast grief.

The need for fast grief, which usually means medicated masked grief, is becoming the norm. My concern is that medically masking, delaying, or bypassing the grief process will only increase the likelihood of serious clinical depression later.

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Nobody Loves Me as Good as You!

Posted on Sep 10, 2013 in Pet Loss

The death of a pet can be devastating for anyone, but the loss is often monumental for a person living alone.

I am convinced that my dad wouldn’t have agreed to open heart surgery if it hadn’t been for his cat, Misty. My mother had died and in many ways he wanted to die as well. But he wondered aloud, “Who will take care of Misty?”  When I said I would take her, he insisted that I couldn’t take care of Misty like he could. He was right. Misty was in love with my dad not with me, so nothing I did would ever be as good.

Thankfully my dad survived the surgery and the two of them took care of each other until Misty was put down at 18 because of stomach cancer. It was difficult to watch my dad pretend he wasn’t crushed. Soon a picture of Misty appeared on top of the television, and anyone who watched TV in that house had to watch Misty as well.

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