The Mortality Club

Easing the Fear of Dying: Imagining the Good Death

December 4, 2016

Tags: fear of dying, good death

I have just finished reading a remarkable book; so remarkable that I gave it a five star review on Amazon and Goodreads. I rarely give five star ratings to anything. I believe if we have to be stuck in this morass of peer review (as opposed to expert review), then at least we can maintain high standards. Katie Roiphe’s exploration of great writers at the end of their lives deserves all five stars. The Violet Hour evokes and provokes. It disturbs even as it soothes. It talks about the author’s decades-long attempt to get comfortable with the thought of dying. She concludes that the best we can do is to “get along with the fear.” 1

I believe it helps to “get along with the fear” by imaging a good death. My idea of a good death is lying in my bed, closing my eyes, and imagining myself on a white raft that is slowly moving further out onto an immense body of deep blue, calm water. I imagine myself floating forever. In short, my vision of a good death is dying in my sleep. (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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