This week the website On Being showcased the article, “Living through Death: Love at the End of Marriage.” It is a young mother’s daily observations of her neighbors: a husband caring for his wife during her final days.
It is the most beautiful tribute to the process of dying and being cared for that I remember reading. Probably because it comes from a young person’s perspective.
I do prefer to read rather than listen, but both are offered. I suggest you read, so your mind can pause to imagine the scenes the author writes about.
Take care all of you Talking BS.com readers! May the wind be at your back this month.
The following is Shane Parish’s Farnam Street article about open and closed mindedness, with excerpts from Ray Dalio’s best-selling book Principles.
I had egg on my face while reading! I wonder if you will as well.
The current political environment has destroyed many relationships that once provided our arena for quality dialogue. That said, politics is only part of our lives. If we can set aside politics and stay open to ways of thinking that challenge our thinking, our lives will be enriched. But, first, we need to understand what being “open” actually entails.
The Difference Between Open-Minded and Closed-Minded People
Harvard Business Review recently posted an exceptional article on coping with the confusion and uncertainty that comes with life transitions. It’s longer than my usual posts, but I think you will enjoy it.
LEARN TO GET BETTER AT TRANSITIONS, by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox
There is a small, disheveled baby robin making her very first steps in my garden today. She looks a bit dazed and exhausted, her lovely yellow down all awry. I know exactly what she feels like. She looks like a lot of people I know right now. At almost every age, everyone seems to be on the cusp of a similar transition: taking their first steps into an uncertain and illegible new world. As I write this, World War II planes fly overhead to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s official birthday. Like my own mother, who shares her birthday, she is turning 93. They are both remarkably well, and not finished with transitions.
At just shy of 57, I feel poised between these two ends of the spectrum, the baby bird and the great-grandmother. From this middle spot, I can observe my entire family hanging, in a seemingly collective cliff ritual, on the edge of change. We are all transitioning — quasi-simultaneously and quite unexpectedly — into our next chapters. My daughter is graduating college. My son is starting his first company. My husband is adapting to something he resists calling retirement. My mother has just been fitted with her first hearing aids and is suddenly complaining about the noise of the sirens in the city. Not to mention my trio of good friends, one who lost a job, one who moved countries, and one who split from her partner.
The following is from Robert Neimyer’s weekly After Talk column. Dr. Neimyer is a leading authority in the field of Death and Dying, and his childhood was impacted by a parent’s suicide.
It is important for all of us to know what to do and who to call if they know of someone who is contemplating taking their life.
Last week we were dismayed by the latest statistics on suicide in America. AfterTalk will be addressing this in coming weeks in this column, but first, we want to address those of you who have had a recent and close loss. In times of despair and hopelessness, it is not unnatural to think about suicide as a hypothetical. Should you have such thoughts, you should talk to a grief counselor. If you or someone you know who has suffered a loss thinks about suicide a lot, below are some resources you might consider from the outstanding American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Here is the news we found so unnerving:
Suicide rates rose in all but one state between 1999 and 2016, with increases seen across age, gender, race and ethnicity, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In more than half of all deaths in 27 states, the people had no known mental health condition when they ended their lives.
In North Dakota, the rate jumped more than 57 percent. In the most recent period studied (2014 to 2016), the rate was highest in Montana, at 29.2 per 100,000 residents, compared with the national average of 13.4 per 100,000.
Increasingly, suicide is being viewed not only as a mental health problem but a public health one. Nearly 45,000 suicides occurred in the United States in 2016 – more than twice the number of homicides – making it the 10th-leading cause of death. Among people ages 15 to 34, suicide is the second-leading cause of death.
The most common method used across all groups was firearms.
You or someone you know might be at risk of suicide, here are ways to help:
For the TrevorLifeline, a suicide prevention counseling service for the LGBTQ community, call 1-866-488-7386.
If you suspect someone may be at risk:
Do not leave the person alone.
Remove any ﬁrearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.
Text HOME to 741741 to have a confidential text conversation with a trained crisis counselor from Crisis Text Line. Counselors are available 24/7. You can learn more about how the texting service works here.
For online chat, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides a confidential chat window, with counselors available 24/7.
Boys Town also provides counselors for youth-specific online chat at this link. It is available every Monday through Friday between 6 p.m. and midnight in the Central time zone.
The following letter was written a few years ago, to a man whose daughter had been killed—suddenly. He gave me permission to post the letter for Father’s Day.
After you read this letter, please put it into a drawer and every month or so, pull it out and reread.
Mandy’s death shouldn’t have happened. But it did. When you say “our family is ruined,” keep in mind that is a thought, not yet the truth. That said, what you convince yourself is “true” will have a lot to do with your family’s future.
Part of your journey is reconciling your belief that “it is up to me to keep my children alive regardless of circumstances, and therefore I have failed.” Another part of the journey is remembering you are the parent of two living children.
Can you get through this horrid time and eventually enjoy being a father to Sam and Elizabeth?
J.D. McClatchy on the Contrast and Complementarity of Desire and Love
“Love is the quality of attention we pay to things.”
BY MARIA POPOVA
We are creatures of such staggering psychoemotional complexity that we are often opaque to ourselves, purblind to the constellation of our own thoughts, our own feelings, our chaotic and often contradictory desires — nowhere more so than in the realm of the heart. “The alternations between love and its denial,”philosopher Martha Nussbaum wrote in contemplating the difficulty of knowing ourselves, “constitute the most essential and ubiquitous structural feature of the human heart.”
Perhaps the most disorienting aspect of that interior opacity is that of distinguishing between love and desire, both electrifying in their own right and interdependent in many ways, but throughly distinct species of being. The contrast and complementarity between the two is what the late, great poet and literary polymath J.D. McClatchy (August 12, 1945–April 10, 2018) explores in the preface to Love Speaks Its Name (public library) — his lovely 2001 anthology of LGBT love poems.
A desire can be a vague wish, a sharp craving, a steadfast longing, a helpless obsession. It can signal an absence or a presence, a need or a commitment, an ideal or an impossibility. The root of the word “desire” links it to consider and to terms of investigation and augury, thereby reminding us that desire is often less what we feel than what we think about what we feel. And the still deeper root of the word links it to star and shine, as if our desires, and bright centers of our being, were also like the fixed fates in the heavens, determining the course of our lives. Indeed, our mundane experience of desire often coincides with this sense of something beyond our control, of something confusing, something driving us beyond the bounds of habit or reason. It is the heart of our hearts, the very stuff of the self. Desire explodes past borders of time or law. It drifts through veils of propriety. It cannot be confined by social expectations or strictures.