Memories: A Call to Reconnect

Did you ever have a memory that rode into your consciousness on the back of a passing odor, object, or random word? Something you desperately tried to forget? But despite your best efforts, it still seeped through your emotional protective wall as if the wall was made of cheesecloth.

Dying Stands Logic on its Head

We often harshly judge behaviors we don't understand. They can involve someone's ingratitude, anger, or actions we label as foolish. I recently was guilty of the same thing here in the San Francisco Bay area with one of my hospice patients.

Cudos to 60 Minutes

The 60 Minutes segment on end of life expenses did more than highlight inappropriate medical costs. It spoke to the role of medical technology in our cultural denial of death. As medical technology becomes...

The Hard Work of Dying

Imagine that you’re preparing for a thirty-day trip to a foreign country and you’re limited to taking only what can be carried in a backpack. Your decisions on what to take or leave behind will determine the quality of your experience. Too many items and the weight will be burdensome. Not enough of the right ones and you might be forced to neglect some basic needs. We make decisions of this type daily. Take what’s important, leave behind what isn’t. But we tend to oblivious to the importance of these decisions for possibly the most momentous journey of our lives—our death.

Bottomless Holes

More than 10 years ago, I saw a black and white photograph by Richard Avedon that I still vividly remember. It was taken of a young boy in 1947 in Sicily. He was in the foreground smiling broadly and wearing a suit that was too short in the arms and too tight in the waist. In the background—softly out of focus—was a tree with a symmetrical oval canopy and a fence that defined the boundary between sky and water. A seemingly bucolic scene unless you looked carefully at the boy.