The Mortality Club

The Unthinkable

January 29, 2017

Tags: sudden death, shock

I have been watching a television series entitled Strange and Unusual Deaths. The dramatized tales are based on true stories. All of the deaths are so strange as to be literally “unthinkable.” For example, envision a healthy thirty-year-old girl in her one room apartment on the 22nd floor of an apartment building in one of New York City’s better neighborhoods. We’ll call her Livia. It’s late afternoon and Livia had just laid down for a well-deserved nap. Deep under the street below her window workers are attempting to repair a leak in a steam pipe that provides heat to all of the buildings in her neighborhood. One of the workers neglects to empty out the water that had accumulated in the pipe before turning the steam back on. When the boiling steam hits the water, it creates a huge pressure that blows a violent river of boiling steam, rock and debris straight into the air. The rumbles awaken Livia. She sits up in bed and looks horrified as the blast rips through her window. Flying debris and rocks attack her body like shrapnel from a dirty bomb. She dies an unimaginable death. (more…)

Dying to be With You

January 15, 2017

Tags: death, dying, caregiver, grief

The Hindu ritual known as Sati during which the widow throws her body on the flames that are turning her husband’s corpse into ash is rarely practiced today. It was prevalent when the role of a Hindu woman was solely to service her man. When he died, her reason for living disappeared. She was declared in-valid, irrelevant, as though already dead. Grief so consumed her that she already felt like her flesh was already on fire. Jumping into the flames held no terror; only the promise of reuniting with her mate.

The ritual of Sati has beome virtually non-existent. That’s happened, in part, because widows are no longer regarded as in-valids who have lost their reason for being. Widows are no more likely than widowers to die, or to want to die, as a result of the death of their mate. The sense of loss that overwhelms when a loved one dies, is not gender-specific. It afflicts both men and women. And, it is not age-specific. Both young and old can be so consumed by grief that they choose to die rather than to live without their mate. (more…)

Hope: the Ultimate Antidote?

January 1, 2017

Tags: hope, hopelessness, faith, belief, false hope

I have an acquaintance who is suffering from advanced ovarian cancer. The cancer has metastizeed and is now in her lungs, her liver, and her kidney. She is in constant pain. Finding it hard to eat, she has lost almost half of her body weight. Though a tall woman, she now weighs less than a hundred pounds. Over the last three years, she has exhausted every possible treatment option that the best of American medicine has to offer. When told by her doctors that there was nothing more they could do, she refused to give up hope.

She travelled to Germany to a clinic that offered a menus of alternative cancer treatments that are unavailable in the U.S.: radio-wave hyperthermia, mistletoe therapy, photodynamic therapy, insulin potentiated chemotherapy, Galvano Electro therapy, vaccines, and so forth. When the German doctors failed to halt the progress of her cancer, she booked herself into one of the sixty cancer hospitals and clinics operating in Tijuana, Mexico. The clinic she chose claimed that they had discovered a virus that would literally eat her cancer, thereby ridding her body of the disease. As I write this, she is still under their care, so I cannot comment on the outcome. (more…)

Selected Works

Psychology/Aging and Dying
In youth we are invincible. The world is forever: we are forever. But, sentient creatures that we are, time inevitably plays its part. Aging and illness shadow those early sensibilities until one day we feel the lurking presence of death itself. Fearful of our own dark thoughts, too often we keep such anxieties to ourselves. To deny our own mortality is a parlor game of sorts, played within our own heads and frequently played alone. Pamela Cuming will have none of it. In her latest book, The Hourglass, she throws back the parlor curtains and lets the light stream in. This is a powerful, objective, unflinching, and yet profoundly empathic work that explores the rewards of honest caring⎯the privilege and the pain⎯not only for one’s friends and family but also for one’s self. Drawing upon an uncanny intuitive understanding of human foible plus a broad knowledge of character development, honed from decades of consulting in the business world, this is a book filled with personal stories both engaging and instructive. In short, The Hourglass is a must read for all those who seek to live life to the full, from start to finish. ________________ Peter C. Whybrow MD, Director of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Beavior at UCLA and award-winning author of The Well-Tuned Brain: Neuroscience and the Life Well Lived.
Fiction: Publication Date Nov 14, 2014
Set in New York City and Los Angeles between August 1999 and November 2001, The Stranger Box is the story of a mother and a daughter caught like two white dwarf stars in separate orbits, destined to collide. Though she does everything in her considerable power to insure the child never finds out who she is, the vain and self-obsessed Katherine Blair is unable to change the course of her destiny or evade Eden, the resourceful daughter whose pursuit is fueled by the desire for revenge and the determination to steal the family that has been denied her.
Memoir
Widow’s Walk is a bold, brave, and candid admission of bereavement, weakness, and, ultimately, strength.
Nonfiction
A strategic guide to organizational and personal effectiveness
Turf is a direct, and sometimes disturbing book about the use and abuse of power in organizations.

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