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End-of-Life

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Advice on Living From the New American “Dr. Death”

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...

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What 5 Objects Are Most Meaningful To You?

In the days before class, I found myself going through all of my possessions, clutching photos of family, friends and places, wishing the teacher had asked for 10 things instead of 5. But being the ever-dutiful student, here are the 5 I came up with...

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A Classic on Grief and Healing

When a person dies, there are many things that can be said, and there is at least one thing that should never be said. The night after Alex died I was sitting in the living room of my sister’s house outside of Boston, when the front door opened and...

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Too Mean To Die

When the volunteer coordinator called me, she said she had a woman who was "too mean to die" and that she trusted that I was the right person for her. With that introduction, I left with an open heart and open mind, intending not to judge, but send loving...

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Basking in Compassionate Silence

I’ve been practicing deep listening this week. I find it challenging enough to simply stop what I’m doing and turn around to face my kids when they’re trying to tell me something. In the grocery store, I even noticed that it’s entirely possible to walk in, navigate...

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Moving Video About the NY Zen Center for Contemplative Care

If you can spare 15 minutes, take a look at this beautiful video about the organization founded by my teachers -- the Zen Center for Contemplative Care.

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A Personal Manifesto on Death

Many friends have written to me after my post on advance directives, saying that they just can’t seem to get around to signing one — even though they recognize how important it is. So I thought I'd share the inspiring "Ethical Will" of my friend Vivian Shaw...

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The Nine Contemplations on Death

The nine contemplations on death come from an 11th century Buddhist scholar. They are meant to help us explore the inevitability of death. This week, I'm trying an experiment in which I read the 9 contemplations to myself before I sit for ten minutes of quiet reflection.

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