Category Archives: Death/Dying

It Tolls for Thee

Rarely am I so moved. The funeral for my mother-in-law ended. I lined up with five other pallbearers and walked the white coffin to the hearse. We got in our car and waited for the procession to begin. Pam began quietly to weep. There is something startling about the hearse and the coffin, the physicality…

‘Prophylactic’ Suicide

Many of us who are still in good health have decided . . . that at some point we will not wish to cope with the diminishment of our lives, the narrowing choices, the prospect of both physical and intellectual decay. When that point comes, we’ll go out. Deciding just when should be the choice…

Never Too Late to Love

“It is never too late to love.” That’s what a good friend told me this week. I was telling her of a kind of break-through: I had learned to love someone a little better, to forgive someone (and pardon myself as well). It felt good, but almost immediately I thought, “I wish I had come…

The Birthday Cigarette

On Sunday the singer-song writer Leonard Cohen turned 80. While his friends and family were lighting the candles on his cake, Mr. Cohen was lighting a cigarette. A year ago he promised that when he turned 80 he would start smoking again after thirty years. Why not? If you’ve made it this far, you can…

The Case of the Hospital Orderly

All of us are gifted. All of us have something to offer. All of us can touch a life and be a blessing. We often imagine that other people are gifted, other people can make a difference, but we doubt our own powers of blessing. It’s because we trust in bigness-as-greatness. If I can’t deliver…