Goodbye Again

I had been doing Ok for the past few hours until I sat down to tie some flies at my fly-tying bench. I turned on some John Denver music and then out came “Goodbye Again”. That is when I lost it, in tears. On and off for the past forty years, I have been trying to locate my old best friend from High School. Dale ......... more »

Paperwork for Peace of Mind

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and think about those hard things that you know you should get around to but haven’t quite made time for? You know, reevaluating your homeowners’ policy? Cleaning out the tool shelf in the basement? Having end-of-life paperwork in place? I can’t help you with the ......... more »


“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.” So C. S. Lewis begins his book, A Grief Observed, about the death of his wife, Joy. A few weeks ago, travel......... more »

640 on your AM dial

"From the front page of USA TODAY, Wednesday, May 3, 2017 – “World War III:  Americans are thinking about the unthinkable.” So it’s not only me!  All this macho missile rattling. It’s not that I think that the US and the People’s Republic of North Korea are really going to throw down plutonium, but, th......... more »

Why I Talk About Dying

I’m pretty sure I’m going to stop being invited to social functions soon. People ask what I’m working on these days and inevitably the conversation turns to dying. The thing is, I’m really convinced that our Western end-of-life experience could be better, and I feel passionate about the fact that being able to ......... more »

Another Long Slow Goodbye

[Written 17 December 2016] My wife's mother just died two nights ago. She was diagnosed with vascular dementia quite a while ago, so . . . this was a surprise to none of us. I wasn't with her that night, but my wife – her eldest daughter – was. But it has made me think. About her mortality. And about my reaction......... more »

To Life!

In “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye and Lazar Wolf joyously celebrate their agreement on Lazar’s engagement to Tzeitel by toasting, “L’Chaim”—“To Life!” Their duet goes on to playfully contrast the joys and sorrows of life, with the repeated exclamation that despite the times of confusion, sadness, or ......... more »

Extend Your Life by Enjoying Your Life

An important four-year longitudinal study done by a group of scientists from England, and reported in the esteemed BMJ, found that subjective (perceived) wellbeing and enjoyment has the positive effect of extending our life on an average of 7.3 years. Mortality was inversely associated with the number of occasions on w......... more »

For Better of Worse: in sickness and in health, till death do us part

Three weeks ago, while we were having our usual pre-lesson chat with our tango teachers, Terry said he felt dizzy and didn’t think he would be able to dance that day. When he added that he had some discomfort in the left side of his jaw, I suggested we head to the emergency room. He insisted on making a detour home t......... more »


When I think about becoming wiser in my life: softer, kinder, more available; I like to start by looking at the end of my life and moving backward to the present. Why do I think of my own dying as a teacher? Because for more than 40 years I have spent a lot of time sitting with the dying, talking, in silence, in prayer......... more »


To receive this kind of news is that nightmare of any parent. Their mentally ill adult son was arrested for burglary, once again. This time, however, it was different. Plagued with a long history of addiction, depression, and hopelessness their son hanged himself in his jail cell. Bitter grief as well as many other emo......... more »