Wednesday, June 19, 2019

How to be sick : a Buddhist-inspired guide for the chronically ill and their caregivers

Toni Bernhard writes about her chronic illness from the perspective of mindfulness. It does not guarantee peacefulness or happiness or even acceptance. But it does help provide perspective that can make it possible for us to be fully present for ourselves and those who love and need us. Boorstein's book book How to be Sick helps teach us how the metaphors of battle may not help us as much as we hope. With an introduction from therapist Sylvia Boorstein, who has inspired many people with her guidance on mindfulness and her imprecation about dealing with life's challenges: "Don't duck."

Toni Bernhard got sick and, to her and her partner’s bewilderment, stayed that way. As they faced the confusion, frustration, and despair of a life with sudden limitations—a life that was vastly different from the one they’d thought they’d have together—Toni had to learn how to be sick. In spite of her many physical and energetic restrictions (and sometimes, because of them), Toni learned how to live a life of equanimity, compassion, and joy. This book reminds us that our own inner freedom is limitless, regardless of our external circumstances. Updated with new insights and practices hard-won from Toni’s own ongoing life experience, this is a must-read for anyone who is—or who might one day be—sick or in pain.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

What is a good death? How my mother planned hers is a good road map for me.

The best part of this story, aside from the never-often-enough reminder to communicate our EOL wishes, is the sweet detail of the dementia patient who believed she was the caretaker of another patient.

Most of us avoid thinking about death, which makes a good one harder to come by. Two-thirds of citizens in the United States do not have a living will. Although most Americans say they want to die at home, few make plans to do so, and half will die in hospitals or nursing homes instead — a situation Katy Butler, author of “The Art of Dying Well,” attributes in part to our “culture-wide denial of death.”

Even healthy people need a living will, but many don’t want to think about it.

Specifying what a good death means is especially important for dementia patients, who will lose the ability to express their own wishes as the disease progresses. In the early stages, patients have time to reflect and clarify what they do and do not want to happen at the end of their lives. But these options dry up quickly in later stages.

This means that most families are left with a terrible series of guesses about both medical interventions and everyday care. Are patients still enjoying eating, or do they just open their mouths as a primitive reflex, as one expert put it, unconnected to the ability to know what to do with food? What kinds of extraordinary resuscitation measures would they want medical staff to undertake?

What is a good death? How my mother planned hers is a good road map for me.

Laughter Keeps Us Healthy

This article is a delight -- with some heartwarming ideas about why laughter can keep us healthy and vital.

Carl Reiner, 97, has been a comedic icon for more than 70 years, a perennial favorite of baby boomers who grew up with Sid Caesar and Dick Van Dyke. But even younger generations have come to appreciate his singular wit. He’s been an actor, screenwriter and director, as well as a legendary straight man for his old pal, Mel Brooks. He believes humor has enriched his life and boosted his longevity.

“There is no doubt about it,” he says. “Laughter is my first priority. I watch something every night that makes me laugh. I wake up and tickle myself while I’m still in bed. There is no greater pleasure than pointing at something, smiling and laughing about it. I don’t think there is anything more important than being able to laugh. When you can laugh, life is worth living. It keeps me going. It keeps me young.”


That old cliche about laughter being the best medicine, as with many cliches, is probably grounded in truth. The psychological effects of laughter are obvious, but it may bring physiological benefits as well. Moreover, it’s free and has no bad side effects.

Laughter stimulates the body’s organs by increasing oxygen intake to the heart, lungs and muscles, and stimulates the brain to release more endorphins, according to the Mayo Clinic. It also helps people handle stress by easing tension, relaxing the muscles and lowering blood pressure. It relieves pain, and improves mood. Laughter also strengthens the immune system.

It's no joke -- laughter really is the best medicine

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Advanced Directive Was Of More Use as a Firestarter than An EOL Plan

After my husband was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure, we talked about how he didn’t want to be a burden to his family, how much he hated hospitals and getting poked and prodded by doctors. We talked about how his 81 years had been full of love and laughter, being a great dad and loving his work. He noted how even his much-beloved Cubbies had finally delivered him a World Series title, and he joked that he could “now die a happy man.”

Death, we agreed, was a natural consequence of life and not something to be feared. And so we prepared the legal documents that were intended to give him control over the end of his life.

A fat lot of good it did us. On Jan. 4, my husband died, and I threw his advance medical directive into the fireplace. It worked better as a fire starter than it did as it was originally intended.

...I am bereft. I am grieving. And I am working hard to understand why medical teams feel they must chase life so relentlessly.

Efforts To Prolong My Husband's Life Cost Him An Easy Death

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Long Goodbye-The Kara Tippetts Story Official Trailer (2019)

Bill Torpy on the Death of His Son

“There’s no satisfying end to this, for anyone,” he said, looking at me, in a sleep-deprived, drug-induced, brain-swollen daze. “There’s no good end.”He continued: “Thank you, you’re a good author and thanks for the experience. There were some good characters in this.”Then he added: “Give me a hug. You don’t deserve this.”

Bill Torpy writes about his 20-year-old son's death from cancer.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

"Disenfranchised Grief" -- Losing a Friend Can Be as Devastating as Losing a Family Member

The so-called hierarchy of grief, a scale used to determine who is considered a more legitimate mourner than others, puts family members at the top. For this reason, the death of a close friend can feel shunted to the periphery and has been described as a disenfranchised grief...Friends are psychological kin, that is, you may even have a stronger bond with friends than people you are related to by birth or marriage. So when a friend dies, the psychological and emotional stress can be as bad as the death of kin.

The death of a friend can be as traumatic as losing a family member