We’re gathering here wisdom and resources on communication, grief, loss and more. We’ll update this page as we learn. Please share resources you’ve found valuable using the Reply / Comments section below.
- “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” ― Thomas Campbell, author and physicist
“People do not pass away. They die, and then they stay.” — Naomi Shihab Nye
- “If you know someone who has lost [someone], and you’re afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died — you’re not reminding them. They didn’t forget they died. What you’re reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and . . . that is a great gift.” — Elizabeth Edwards
- Stifled Grief: How the West Has It Wrong. Excerpt:
I’d like to point out that we are a culture of emotionally stunted individuals who are scared of our mortality and have mastered the concept of stuffing our pain. * * * When asked if we are alright, it’s simpler to say yes and fake a smile than, to be honest, and show genuine human emotion. * * * Let me share below a few of the expectations and realities that surround grief for those who are open to listening. Read full article . . .
- Grief and Waves. Excerpt:
Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents. I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. Read full content . . .
- When your dearly departed loved one may not be so lovely. Excerpt:
Is it possible to grieve someone you mostly struggled with, where only a few positive memories pale when compared with the dark, negative experiences? Read full article . . .
- 12 tips for giving patients bad news. Chaya Gusfield, a palliative and acute care chaplain, provides communication tips for doctors based on her personal experience with her partner’s devastating medical diagnosis. Valuable for every doctor who gives “bad news” to patients and/or families. Read the article . . .
- How not to say the wrong thing. Known as “Comfort IN — dump OUT” or as the “Ring Theory of Kvetching” — it works in all kinds of crises — medical, legal, even existential. Read the article . . .
- What to say to a grieving friend. Extracted by Joanna Goddard from the book “Getting Grief Right: Finding Your Story of Love in the Sorrow of Loss” by Patrick O’Malley PhD.
- Sit, Be Quiet: How to Support the Dying. Author Amy Agape says “I had just been diagnosed with a terminal condition, and I was quickly learning how challenging it was to find people who could help me. Not with medical assistance, although that was challenging as well. What I struggled to find was someone to help me do this thing, to help me learn how to be with my dying, how to be dying. Seventeen years later, I still have not found a large number of people who are able to do that, but I have found a few. And on this quest I have amassed a whole lot of wisdom and guidance about how to support the dying.” Read the article . . .
- Talking to a loved one with dementia. If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, then you know how difficult it can be to communicate with him or her. This article provides techniques that can be used improve communication with the person you love. You’ll learn about redirection, validation therapy and more. Read the article . . .
Death and Dying
- Dying has its own biology and symptoms. In “The Symptoms of Dying” Dr. Sara Manning Peskin tells us that “Dying has its own biology and symptoms. It’s a diagnosis in itself. While the weeks and days leading up to death can vary from person to person, the hours before death are similar across the vast majority of human afflictions.” She describes the “death rattle” and more. Read the article . . .
- Who Dies by Stephen Levine and Ondrea Levine. From Amazon.com: Who Dies? is the first book to show the reader how to open to the immensity of living with death, to participate fully in life as the perfect preparation for whatever may come next. The Levines provide calm compassion rather than the frightening melodrama of death.
- The Grace in Dying: A message of hope, comfort and spiritual transformation by Kathleen Singh. From Amazon.com: In this brilliantly conceived and beautifully written book, Kathleen Dowling Singh illuminates the profound psychological and spiritual transformations experiences by the dying as the natural process of death reconnects them with the source of their being.
- Against the Dying of the Light: A Parent’s Story of Love, Loss and Hope by Leonard Fein. From Amazon.com: How a father’s struggle to understand his daughter’s sudden death becomes an inspiring exploration of life. The sudden death of a child. A personal tragedy beyond description. The permanent presence of an absence. What can come from it? Raw wisdom and defiant hope. Leonard Fein probes life’s painful injustices in this remarkable personal story. He exposes emotional truths that are revealed when we’re forced to confront one of the toughest questions there is: How can we pick up the pieces of our lives and go on to laugh and to love in the aftermath of grievous loss?
Life and Living
- Life Lessons: Two Experts on Death and Dying Teach Us About the Mysteries of Life and Living by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler. From volunteer JS: In this, her first book on life and living, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross joins with David Kessler to guide us through the practical and spiritual lessons we need to learn so that we can life to the fullest in every moment. Many years of working with the dying have shown the authors that certain lessons come up over and over again.
- The New York Times article ‘The Good Death,’ ‘When Breath Becomes Air’ and More (February 2016) reviews DEATH’S SUMMER COAT: What the History of Death and Dying Can Tell Us About Life and Living, by Brandy Schillace; THE GOOD DEATH: An Exploration of Dying in America, by Ann Neumann; IN THE SLENDER MARGIN: The Intimate Strangeness of Death and Dying, by Eve Joseph; THE ICEBERG, by Marion Coutts; and WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR, by Paul Kalanithi. Read the article . . .
- The New York Times article I’m Dying Up Here: Books on How to Grieve and How to Die (June 2017) reviews GOOD GRIEF: Heal Your Soul, Honor Your Loved Ones, and Learn to Live Again, by Theresa Caputo and Kristina Grish; and RESILIENT GRIEVING: Finding Strength and Embracing Life After a Loss That Changes Everything, by Lucy Hone. Read the article . . .