Friday, June 24, 2011

Death and Dying - Part II: Tributes and Eulogies

Funerals are for the living. Aside from the mechanics of preparation, burial, or cremation, a funeral serves to bring together family, friends, relatives, co-workers, neighbors, and so forth. We support one another, comfort the grieving, remember the deceased, and perhaps wonder when it will be our turn. And, if we follow the standard script, we eulogize and honor the person who has died.

Too late. How sad to wait until someone is gone before acknowledging them - their strengths, their contributions, what they meant to us, and why we'll miss them. Somehow, I wonder if we assume that those around us know how much we appreciate them, enjoy their company, respect their accomplishments, and how they improve our lives.

It's too late to tell them once they're gone. Pick up the phone - write an e-mail or letter - stop by someone's house and let them know what and how much they mean to you. They can't hear it when they're gone.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Death and Dying - Part I: The Casserole Effect

When someone dies, our cultural norm is to 'circle the wagons'. For the grieving spouse, parent, child, friend, relative, co-worker, neighbor, and for ourselves, we offer love, compassion, sympathy, friendship, kinship, warmth, and support. Frequently, this takes the form of food - which is sustenance, nourishment, a very basic need, and something we expect the bereaved to appreciate and not want nor need to prepare on their own. This is a wonderful tradition - it is from the heart, and it is given with only the best of intentions.

What I hypothesize as 'the casserole effect' is that within a week or ten days, the calls, the visits, the handholding, and the casseroles have subsided - and the mourner, the griever is left with his/her emptiness, including literally and figuratively, the casserole dishes.

What I have learned and what I know to be true, is that after such a loss, there needs to be continuity of communication, connection, and compassion. The immediacy of our response to someone else's loss needs to extend past the initial event and not create a 'casserole effect', where we have done that which is expedient, and yet perhaps, not for long enough.

Support, concern, and love are long term commitments. We are needed as much, or perhaps more, in the months following a loss, as we are when we first make our casseroles.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Four Quotes

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance
            Will Durant

I always turn to the sports section first. The sports page records peoples accomplishments; the front page has nothing but man's failures
            Earl Warren

I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money
            Pablo Picasso

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Getting older means that you've figured out what you like, when and where to get it, and discovering that they don't make it anymore or they've gone out of business.

Getting older is not like making a bigger boat. When sailors dream of a larger boat, the part that expands is in the middle - the cabins, the galley, the living space - not the bow and the stern. When you live longer, you tack the extra years onto the end - 70's, 80's, and 90's - and not in the middle, like a boat. How sweet it would be to get older by adding more time in your 30's, 40's, and 50's and not so much at the end.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Fraternity Of Rocks

I continually meet people who appreciate, seek out, collect, and treasure rocks. Whether for their simple beauty, their gravity, their tactile sensuality, or their durability and permanence, they are parts of our lives. We rub them as touchstones, anchor our ephemera with them as paperweights, design garden settings around their textures, and decorate our homes with them.

They may represent stability in an atmosphere of change - they may serve as foundations in a world of uncertainty. In a seemingly limitless array of colors, shapes, sizes, and structures, they imbue us with their strength. They solidify memory and connection to place and time.

You know who you are. If you are nodding your head, glancing at your collection, or thinking of the spot where you gathered a favorite specimen, you are a member of The Fraternity Of Rocks. We're a large community - enjoy the company.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Two Quotes

 "Censorship is advertising paid by the government"                     Federico Fellini

"Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy."
                    Nora Ephron