Attending to Another Public Health Crisis

AN ESTIMATED FIFTY-THREE MILLION AMERICANS, one out of every five people over the age of eighteen, are now providing care or assistance to a friend or family member, the majority without pay.1 As our population continues to age and require more care, the physical, mental, and emotional burden on caregivers continues to escalate. The collective toll in regard to well-being, loss … Read More

Why Talk About Serious Illness Before It Happens?

Though it may be uncomfortable to talk about such things when we’re relatively healthy, research shows that those who do – live longer, with less anguish, while maintaining a say over their quality of life. There’s just no getting around it. Eight out of ten of us will have Serious Illness Conversations (SIC) with our doctors and loved ones as we … Read More

“What Matters Most?” – And Why it’s Important to Keep Asking

Perhaps you’ve noticed that what matters most can change as we age. As my circumstances change; so too my perspective, and what I hold most dear. For example, staying up late to watch TV is less satisfying than it used to be. Instead, waking at dawn to peace and quiet, has become one of life’s great pleasures. I’m sure that … Read More

Have You Felt Heard and Understood Recently?

Think about it for a moment… What could be more important? Particularly if you were in pain and living with serious illness — perhaps even a life threatening illness. I have good news. Recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have agreed to include as a standard measure of patient care, the question, “Over the past two days, … Read More

Still Here…

Through medicine and life-saving technology, the silent generation and now the boomers live an average of twenty-five years longer than their parents. This longevity is an unprecedented achievement yet can have a significant downside. We are the beneficiaries and victims of scientific success. Serious, chronic illness is an invention of the late 20th century, the fruit of our species’ intellectual … Read More

When Few Options Remain (Continued…)

  Even a year before she died, Tasha was biding her time. Three dialysis treatments a week kept death at bay, while imaginary thinking fostered hope that she would someday walk again. Tasha struggled to accept Nursing Home life and the daily ordeal of Hoyer lifts and wheelchair transfers as the devil’s bargain. During our daily phone conversations, she vented … Read More

When Few Options Remain

  Robert was thrown from his metal ladder as 60,000 volts of electricity surged through him. He had been asked to cover for the warehouse foreman that humid morning, and to reboot the plant’s faulty electrical system. His heart likely stopped before he hit the ground, never to beat again. They reached his wife, Tasha, at home. She was stoic … Read More

To Care for Them Who Have Borne the Battle

  Lee Richmond was a well-loved and retired college professor of American history. His champion and perennial source of inspiration was Abraham Lincoln. While Lee and his family gradually resigned themselves to hospice care, Lee continued to draw strength and purpose from the immortal closing of Lincoln’s second inaugural address: With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness … Read More

Crossing Abbey Road

When we are no longer able to change the situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.     —Victor Frankel, Man’s Search for Meaning Malcolm was sitting up in bed, his hospital door ajar. He had on headphones, and his slender body kept time to the music. The window shade was raised, letting the afternoon sun flood the room. He … Read More

Peeking Through the Veil

  For at least 2,500 years, religious teachers, prophets, and mystics have spoken about a veil between the world of the living and the dead. It’s said that the veil is particularly thin as death approaches. While words can point to it, experiencing it is another matter, and one not easily forgotten. Many of us have already brushed against it. … Read More