PBS’s Next Avenue columns are always worth reading, but the following article is particularly relevant.
Are you sure you have all the necessary documents in place regarding your incapacity? Your death?
Do you understand why is it wise to update certain documents?
Do you work with clients who could benefit from receiving this information?
The Biggest Estate Planning Mistake People Make
By Brad Wiewel, estate attorney
So often the bereaved can’t, or don’t, talk about what is important to them. This week’s Jane Brody NYT’s column, When a Partner Dies, Grieving the Loss of Sex, tackles one of our society’s taboo topics.
For anyone who is recently widowed – and for those of us who work with the bereaved, Brody’s column is a must read.
While listening to a struggling mother talk in my counseling office recently, I had a flashback to my own teen years.
My mother was strict, but she gave me a long leash. As a result, I always thought I was very independent of my family. As I drove home that evening, however, I remembered a pattern of mine that showed how connected and dependent I was to those people.
Knowing wasn’t enough
I was fortunate to be somewhat talented on the bell-curve of my small town high school student body. And each year I participated in many solo and group performances.
The memory that flashed into my consciousness was that I never performed without simultaneously scanning the crowd for my family. Never.
I knew they were there. So why wasn’t just “knowing” enough for me?
The experience of being watched vs. being seen
What if your deceased parent was hell on wheels behind closed doors, and God’s gift to the outside world when they were alive? What if they were consistently uncompromising, selfish, and neglectful… possibly cruel and abusive to you?
How do you cope with the death of a parent who was a hypocrite and/or a bad parent?
Today’s post features a 2016 New York Times article, “My Marriage Didn’t End When I Became a Widow” by Lucy Kalanithi. I know it is now 2017, but I think it is important to hear Lucy’s voice before I introduce you to her husband, Paul.
When Lucy’s husband, a young and brilliant Stanford neurosurgeon, was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, he moved within the world of medicine from physician to patient. Lucy, also a physician, became his caregiver and the mother of a daughter conceived after Paul’s diagnosis.
Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on his book When Breath Becomes Air. The book is beautifully written (not many physicians also have two degrees in English literature) and an inspiring memoir. It was named one of the best books of 2016 by the Washington Post, The New York Times and National Public Radio, and has 4.7 out of 5 stars from 6,265 readers on Amazon.
Janet Maslin from the NYT says: I guarantee that finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option. Part of this book’s tremendous impact comes from the obvious fact that its author was such a brilliant polymath. And part comes from the way he conveys what happened to him—passionately working and striving, deferring gratification, waiting to live, learning to die—so well. None of it is maudlin. Nothing is exaggerated. As he wrote to a friend: “It’s just tragic enough and just imaginable enough.” And I say just important enough to be unmissable.
I recently read an article (link below) entitled “Why Losing a Dog Can Be Harder than Losing a Relative.”
If you can’t understand the phenomenon, you likely haven’t experienced 15-18 years of sweet, eager, unconditional love from a pet. Nor have you experienced your own sweet, eager, unconditional love for your pet.
Lost and found
I have had clients who have deeply grieved the death of a spouse, but admit that losing their beloved dog was tougher experience to tolerate. It is not surprising as we aren’t often loved without expectation, i.e., without someone wanting us to look, act and think a certain way.
On the other hand, I have watched in amazement as a struggling bereaved individual comes alive and starts to rebuild their life – after getting a new pet.
Honor the loss
So if a family member, friend or co-worker is grieving the death of a pet, bite your tongue before you say “it’s just a dog, for heaven’s sake.”
Enjoy the article and the latest research on our relationship to our pets!