Friday, April 14, 2017

Wind Telephone – Ōtsuchi-chō, Japan - Atlas Obscura

"When Itaru Sasaki lost his cousin in 2010, he decided to build a glass-paneled phone booth in his hilltop garden with a disconnected rotary phone inside for communicating with his lost relative, to help him deal with his grief. Only a year later, Japan faced the horrors of a triple disaster: an earthquake followed by a tsunami, which caused a nuclear meltdown. Sasaki’s coastal hometown of Otsuchi was hit with 30-foot waves. Ten percent of the town died in the flood. Sasaki opened his kaze no denwa or “wind phone” to the now huge number of people in the community mourning the loss of loved ones."

Wind Telephone – Ōtsuchi-chō, Japan - Atlas Obscura

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sheryl Sandberg's New Book About Loss is Option B

An excerpt from Option B, Sheryl Sandberg's new book about grief and loss: <P><P>

In the early weeks after Dave died, I was shocked when I’d see friends who did not ask how I was doing. I felt invisible, as if I were standing in front of them but they couldn’t see me. When someone shows up with a cast, we immediately inquire, “What happened?” If your life is shattered, we don’t.

People continually avoided the subject. I went to a close friend’s house for dinner, and she and her husband made small talk the entire time. I listened, mystified, keeping my thoughts to myself. I got emails from friends asking me to fly to their cities to speak at their events without acknowledging that travel might be more difficult for me now. Oh, it’s just an overnight? Sure, I’ll see if Dave can come back to life and put the kids to bed.

I ran into friends at local parks who talked about the weather. Yes! The weather has been weird with all this rain and death.

Many people who had not experienced loss, even some very close friends, didn’t know what to say to me or my kids. Their discomfort was palpable, especially in contrast to our previous ease. As the elephant in the room went unacknowledged, it started acting up, trampling over my relationships. If friends didn’t ask how I was doing, did that mean they didn’t care? My friend and co-author Adam Grant, a psychologist, said he was certain that people wanted to talk about it but didn’t know how. I was less sure. Friends were asking, “How are you?” but I took this as more of a standard greeting than a genuine question. I wanted to scream back, “My husband just died, how do you think I am?” I didn’t know how to respond to pleasantries. Aside from that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

At first, going back to work provided a bit of a sense of normalcy. But I quickly discovered that it wasn’t business as usual. I have long encouraged people to bring their whole selves to work, but now my “whole self” was just so freaking sad. As hard as it was to bring up Dave with friends, it seemed even more inappropriate at work. So I did not. And they did not. Most of my interactions felt cold, distant, stilted. In the moments when I couldn’t take it, I sought refuge with my boss Mark Zuckerberg. I told him I was worried that my personal connections with our coworkers were slipping away. He understood my fear but insisted I was misreading their reactions. He said they wanted to stay close but they did not know how. The deep loneliness of my loss was compounded by so many distancing daily interactions that I started to feel worse and worse. I thought about carrying around a stuffed elephant but I wasn’t sure that anyone would get the hint. I knew that people were doing their best; those who said nothing were trying not to bring on more pain, those who said the wrong thing were trying to comfort. I saw myself in many of these attempts—they were doing exactly what I had done when I was on the other side. I thought back to a friend with late-stage cancer telling me that for him the worst thing people could say was, “It’s going to be O.K.” He said the terrified voice in his head would wonder, How do you know it is going to be O.K.? Don’t you understand that I might die? I remembered the year before Dave died when a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. At the time, I thought the best way to offer comfort was to assure her, “You’ll be O.K. I just know it.” Then I dropped the subject for weeks, thinking she would raise it again if she wanted to. Recently, a colleague was diagnosed with cancer and I handled it differently. I told her, “I know you don’t know yet what will happen—and neither do I. But you won’t go through this alone. I will be there with you every step of the way.” By saying this, I acknowledged that she was in a stressful and scary situation. I then continued to check in with her regularly. As people saw me stumble at work, some of them tried to help by reducing pressure. When I messed up or was unable to contribute, they waved it off, saying, “How could you keep anything straight with all you’re going through?”

In the past, I’d said similar things to colleagues who were struggling, but when people said it to me I discovered that this expression of sympathy actually diminished my self-confidence. What helped was hearing, “Really? I thought you made a good point in that meeting and helped us make a better decision.” Bless you. Empathy was nice, but encouragement was better.

I finally figured out that I could acknowledge the elephant’s existence. At work, I told my closest colleagues that they could ask me questions and they could talk about how they felt too. One colleague said he was paralyzed when I was around, worried he might say the wrong thing. Another admitted she’d been driving by my house frequently, not sure if she should knock on the door. Once I told her that I wanted to talk to her, she finally rang the doorbell and came inside.

When people asked how I was doing, I started responding more frankly. “I’m not fine, and it’s nice to be able to be honest about that with you.” I learned that even small things could let people know that I needed help; when they hugged me hello, if I hugged them just a bit tighter, they understood that I was not O.K.



Sheryl Sandberg: Read an Excerpt From Option B | Time.com

Choosing To Die - A Personal Story - www.phyllisshacter.com

"Phyllis Shacter courageously shares the first personal story ever written about Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED). This memoir and guidebook follows the journey she took with her husband, Alan, once he decided to VSED so he didn’t have to live into the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. This is their love story, their partnership, the brave territory they traversed, including how they prepared themselves with proper medical and legal guidance when electing to VSED. Choosing to Die is filled with emotional depth and sensitivity as well as practical information outlining the process from beginning to end. Phyllis shares every detail, including what Alan experienced during the nine-and-a-half days it took for him to die, and how the experience transformed Phyllis. This book is for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of end of life choices, and especially for anyone who has been diagnosed with a degenerative disease. "

Choosing To Die - A Personal Story - www.phyllisshacter.com

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I Learned The Hard Way That You Can't Take A Vacation From Grief | The Huffington Post

 "The thing about grief is that it follows you. It goes where you go, even when you try to shake it off your tail. It causes you to be unfocused, forget things, not really be present in the moment. In our case, it led us to miss a flight, lose a credit card, blow up at strangers, have panic attacks in crowded places, forget valuables in the hotel, and the coup d’grace ― have no clue which airport parking lot we had left our car in. In other tell-tale signs that we packed our grief in our suitcase: We suffered claustrophobia in museums and had to leave, grew unmanageably impatient waiting in lines, overslept and missed events, had little energy to meet up with friends and pretty much never got our bearings. Was our vacation fun? No, not really. But in hindsight, it was funny. And yes, there was good that came of our trip: We recognized the toll that grief is taking on us despite our ― my ― best efforts to keep it at bay."

I Learned The Hard Way That You Can't Take A Vacation From Grief | The Huffington Post:

Nurses Ignore Hospital Regulations To Grant Dying Man His Final Wish | The Huffington Post

 "After doctors at Aarhus University Hospital told Carsten Flemming Hansen that he was too sick for surgery and would die within days from internal bleeding following an aortic aneurysm, he revealed the final thing he wanted to do. And that was to smoke a cigarette and drink a glass of cold white wine outside, while watching the sun set. According to a post on the hospital’s Facebook account, nurses wheeled Hansen out onto a balcony on a bed last Tuesday and broke the building’s strict no-smoking policy by allowing him to light up. He then enjoyed a spectacular sunset as he sipped his drink, surrounded by close family and friends."

Nurses Ignore Hospital Regulations To Grant Dying Man His Final Wish | The Huffington Post:

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Cancer Taught Me To Live Like I'm Dying | The Huffington Post

"The best any of us can hope for is to know that it mattered that we were here—that we somehow made a difference for someone somewhere, that we created a special moment, a special memory for someone to cherish. And every day, we have a chance to create those moments for ourselves and for someone else, and it may well start with a seemingly innocuous greeting."

Cancer Taught Me To Live Like I'm Dying | The Huffington Post