I spoke to Joanna Ebenstein, the museum’s creative director, about how the general public might perceive such an exhibit. “People think it’s morbid to talk about death and dying,” she said. “But I feel that thinking that way is morbid in itself.”
“Statistically my time was up at least a year ago. But I’m still here,” wrote my childhood friend Marisa at the top of her Facebook note “25 Random Things About Me.” I had read and re-read her list so many times I’d nearly committed it to memory.
Sherwin Nuland was known affectionately as Shep by my family. He and my father were young roommates – physicians-in-training in London in the late 1950s.
A couple of years ago I blogged regularly about my Year to Live project. The 365 day experiment profoundly changed the way I think about life, even to this day. Every once in a while, something fantastic and year-to-live-y grabs my attention and makes me want to jump up and share it with you.
We all have some form of magical thinking when it comes to dying. It’s how we attempt to gain control over our fears. My particular brand of magical thinking is that if you eat well, exercise and meditate, you will most likely have a long and healthy life. I know this is not entirely rational…
What I did not write about was the all-too-real end-of-life journey of my earliest childhood friend Marisa, who was courageously facing metastatic cancer while I went about my hypothetical journey.
Unbelievably, I’ve arrived at the end of the Year to Live project. I’ve learned from others that the “dissolution of the body” meditation which symbolically closes the class is a powerful one. Frankly, I’m scared of it. One person I know who experienced it said that this exercise is so visceral that he actually lost control of some, ah, bodily function when he did it.
People who had substantive discussions with their doctor about their end-of-life preferences were far more likely to die at peace and in control of their situation, and to spare their family anguish. Above all, there are 4 simple questions to talk through with those who are ill…