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Dying as a Rite of Passage

There's a Gap Between How We Hope to Die and How We Really Do

Katy Butler

By Katy Butler - There’s a gap nowadays between how we hope to die, and how we really do. More than three-quarters of Americans hope to die at home like their ancestors, but more than two-thirds die in hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions. It doesn’t have to be this way. There’s a pathway to a peaceful, empowered death, even in an era of high-technology medicine.

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Embracing Grief in a Laundromat

Honoring a Sister's Memory

Martha Manning

By Martha Manning - It was 4:00 a.m. and I was the only patron in one of the most broken-down laundromats in the Commonwealth of Virginia. My sister Sarah, after decades of turmoil and tumult, had died the day before—a combination of pain and painkillers.

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The New Realities of Dying

A Daughter Struggles with the Medical System's Epidemic of Overtreatment

Katy Butler

By Katy Butler - Although many doctors assume that people want to extend their lives, many do not. I believe that my father’s doctors did their best within a compartmentalized and time-pressured medical system. But in the absence of any other guiding hand, there is no doubt that economics helped shape the wider context in which doctors made decisions.

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VIDEO: David Kessler on Coming to Terms with the End

A Special Storytelling Piece from Our 2018 Symposium

David Kessler

When our clients are facing their own mortality, how can we guide them in a way that's both compassionate and realistic? In the following video, therapist David Kessler, an expert on healing from grief, shares the story of his work with a terminally ill client and what it took for her to come to terms with her illness and finally reach a place of acceptance.

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Changing Our Contract with Life

A Therapist's Story of Battling Chronic Pain

Kevin Anderson

By Kevin Anderson - This is the story of one of the most turbulent storms in my personal and professional life. After the storm, I learned there’s something about healing from deep emotional suffering that feels like death and rebirth—the kind that asks us to be open to changing our contract with life.

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The Stories That Bind Us

A Special Feature from Our Family Matters Department

Janine Roberts

By Janine Roberts - When I was eight years old, I reached into Mom's jewelry drawer and found a folded piece of paper that read: “I want to die here in the meadow. The lupine and Indian paintbrush around me.” Not long ago, my granddaughter was born. She taught me anew how we want to connect and be seen—something Mom needed from me.

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Kinship Without Connection

A Special Feature from Our Family Matters Department

Mark Matousek

By Mark Matousek - One ordinary day last year, an email appeared from someone I didn’t know, a Jim who lived in Phoenix. It explained that his mother had found a book of mine online, realized I was looking for her ex-husband, and passed the book along to her son. Jim had read the book, done the math, and deduced that we had the same missing father. We agreed to meet three weeks later.

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VIDEO: Terry Real Shares His Most Memorable Therapeutic Moment

The Found and the Lost

Terry Real

Many people wonder how therapists manage to do the work they do. Of the thousands of meaningful sessions that take place in a therapist’s office, certain ones stand out. In the following video from the 2016 Symposium, renowned couples therapist Terry Real shares a memorable moment from his own work.

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VIDEO: Margie Nichols Shares Her Most Memorable Therapeutic Moment

In the Valley of the Shadow

Margie Nichols

Many people wonder how therapists manage to do the work they do. Of the thousands of meaningful sessions that take place in a therapist’s office, certain ones stand out. In the following video from the 2016 Symposium, renowned therapist Margie Nichols shares a transformational story from her own life in therapy.

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What Really Gets Handed Down in a Family?

A Personal Essay from our Family Matters Department

Roberta Israeloff

By Roberta Israeloff - Our son was 30, the new girlfriend just a few years younger. They continued to date. She was funny and smart. They moved in together. “Is there some kind of family ring?” my son finally asked. Soon after, my mother-in-law took a turn for the worse. She wouldn’t get out of bed in the rehab center, and she’d lie instead curled up like a fetus. When we’d call, all she’d want to talk about were her things: her dishes and cups, jewelry, and the gifts and mementos she’d accrued over her lifetime. “Every single one of them has a story,” she’d say.

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