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  • Dealing with Grief

    Grief can be a hard subject to talk about. No amount of planning can eliminate the grief or loss associated with the death of an elder loved one—and it shouldn’t. Grief is an important part of death, and you need to allow yourself to feel it. It is a healthy and powerful way to show love. Grief is often internalized through thoughts and feelings, but you may also express grief in words and tears. We were given tear ducts to relieve the stress and pressure of our lives. Use them.

  • Fulfilling Elders’ Wishes in Their Last Days

    As our elders approach their last days, we can do a number of things to make the process a little easier. One thing I like to do is to ask about any unfulfilled wishes. You will both get a lot out of this process. Being involved in their final days really gives the dying a great deal of satisfaction. It allows them to feel they are actually still in control of some things in life.

  • Mom and Dad Left Us a Mess!

    Question: My mother died a few months ago, leaving me completely overwhelmed with the accumulated mess she left behind. Though I tried to offer help on many occasions through the years, she would hear no part of clearing out her stuff. I spend most of my days in tears, resentful that she left me this mess, squeezed between her affairs and my family and job. Do you have any advice for me to handle this daunting task? Can you at least tell others not to do this to their children?

  • George Washington’s Health and Death

    George Washington was tough. Unbelievably tough. Everybody back then was, or they died. In his younger years, he had malaria, small pox, tuberculosis, and dysentery, to name a few. He lost all his teeth by middle age and wore various poor-fitting dentures made from ivory or different animals’ teeth, never wooden.

  • Death of a Child: Learning from the Travolta Family’s Tragedy

    No one should have to bury a child, a universal truth that will never be cliché. Nothing is worse than the death of your son or daughter. It haunts you forever.

    I know from secondhand experience, after my parents had to do just that when my sister died in an auto accident in her twenties. The Travoltas know firsthand. You can only try to cope. But how? What common lessons can be learned from such an unthinkable tragedy?

  • The Good Death

    My friend Millie was given less than six months to live. Her cancer has metastasized. I’m not sure exactly how old Millie is, but I guess she is somewhere in her mid-80s. By her own measure, she has lived a good life and is ready to go. Millie is a wonderful woman, warm and generous. She raised two charming daughters who will carry on her legacy of living a meaningful life.

  • What Would You Do If You Knew . . .

    [amazon cover 0385663404] In The End of the Alphabet, Ambrose is told he has only a month to live. He and his wife, Zipper, have no children or extended family, so his decision to travel as much as he can before dying affects only them.

    My thought is to travel as much as I can before I’m given that kind of diagnosis, but I do understand. We often put off today what, we hope, we’ll be able to do tomorrow for a variety of reasons: cost, especially in these days of economic uncertainty; personal safety; time away from home, job, family; etc.

  • Aunt Babe Died: What Do I Tell My Mother?

    I opened my email this morning to find a message from my cousin telling family members that Aunt Babe died yesterday. Aunt Babe, my mother’s younger sister by two years, suffered from leukemia for about five years prior to her death and lived in the same city as my mother, Reva. Absent the dementia, Reva would not have been surprised by Aunt Babe’s death.   

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