25 03, 2015

There was Glitter in Her Hair When Grandma Died: The Construction of a Death Story

By | 2015-03-25T06:00:20-07:00 March 25th, 2015|General|10 Comments

I was speeding by cars on the freeway driving like a maniac; my mom needed me at the hospital. My grandma had just been admitted, maybe had a heart attack – no one knew – but my mom had simply texted “come” and so I was. I’m still not sure exactly where I was on the 405 when I got a text message that at a glance looked like an update on grandma’s situation. I asked Siri to read the message to me since I was driving. She read the words, “… Grandma died a little while ago …” without [...]

22 10, 2014

An Interview with a Cancer Patient: Kori and Breast Cancer

By | 2014-10-22T21:30:55-07:00 October 22nd, 2014|General|18 Comments

  I've known Kori for a LONG time. Her story is one that can only be described as miraculous on steroids. For a long time Kori's story was drug addiction, alcoholism, theft, and prison. Change began happening in her and soon treatment and recovery were added to her story. At last, this year saw opening up before her a life of integrity and freedom that she began living with a tenacity and grace that amazed me. Then, 134 days ago, she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I sat down with her the day after her last chemo treatment to see [...]

8 10, 2014

How to Talk to Grieving People … Never Saying “At Least…”

By | 2014-10-08T22:31:45-07:00 October 8th, 2014|General|11 Comments

Last month I wrote about the power of responding to people in grief with memories. So many of us don't know what to say to a grieving person and even if we do manage to say something as simple as "I'm so sorry," very often our discomfort makes us feel the need to keep speaking and, if we're not careful, our rambling can lead us into dangerous words. One of the worst things we can say to someone in grief is a phrase that starts with "At least ..." For example, At least he had a long life ... (most [...]

2 09, 2014

When Our Heroes Die: Grieving On-Screen Strangers

By | 2014-09-02T10:22:05-07:00 September 2nd, 2014|General|30 Comments

  It has been a terrible year. I have a background in theatre and I tended to compete with the actors I saw on stage or screen, wondering how or if the “job” could be better. Three of my theatre/acting/film heroes have died this year. These 3 kings, I like to say, (Robin, Philip, and Harold) have crushed me in every competition I have tried to will myself into creating when I watch their work. There is no way I could have voiced a better Genie, portrayed a more flawless Capote, or even come close to writing a script like [...]

14 05, 2014

So, I Went to a Death Conference …

By | 2014-05-14T20:57:43-07:00 May 14th, 2014|General|52 Comments

2 weeks ago I found myself on an early flight out of John Wayne with a final destination of Baltimore, MD. "Why are you flying to Baltimore?" the nice lady next to me in 26E asked. Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/TPopova "I'm going to a conference." "Oh, what kind of conference?" (sigh) "Well, it's a Death Conference, I mean a conference on death, it's death education to be specific." "Oh," she replied, "that's interesting." She pointed out Annapolis to me and a few bridges she didn't know the names of and said no more. Death always kills a conversation. [...]

24 12, 2013

My Grandpa Died Yesterday: When Christmas is a Blur

By | 2013-12-24T00:01:28-08:00 December 24th, 2013|General|34 Comments

Some of us have been dreading Christmas this year. Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/hayesphotography Seeing the happy commercials on television, hearing people talk about holiday parties and gift shopping has felt empty and foreign. It's as though the world is spinning around you as you stand still. There's the temptation and perhaps the need to put on a face as you see certain people or go to different events, but nothing can budge the grief you are feeling or the dread as Christmas stands immovable, like some strange monument, to remind you, as if you could forget, that you're [...]

18 12, 2013

You Know You’re in SoCal for Christmas If . . .

By | 2013-12-18T22:49:34-08:00 December 18th, 2013|General|31 Comments

If you've lived in California long enough, you'll be nodding & laughing as you read down the list of only in Southern California Christmas Traditions:   - If you go see the lights in Naples - it's worth the drive to Belmont Shore to see the gorgeous lights that deck the houses lining the harbor & canals. I love the one with the leg lamp. Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/KonArt - If on Christmas morning, when you go outside to get the newspaper or greet your family, you are in a t-shirt, shorts & sandals. - If your family heads [...]

10 12, 2013

Not an Earthquake After All, Just a Nightmare: A Cancer Journey

By | 2013-12-10T22:00:57-08:00 December 10th, 2013|General|39 Comments

This is Part II of my story. To read Part I, click here.   Lou, my husband, not only had an inoperable tumor on his lung, he also had a brain tumor that had metastasized to the cerebellum.  It was all through his blood stream and would continue to settle where it wished. Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Roob “How long do I have?”  Lou asked.  “8 to 12 weeks” she said gently.  2 to 3 months??  This could not be real.  We walked to the car, and I said, “We take longer than that to plan our trips to [...]

20 11, 2013

We all have dates that changed our lives. This is mine.

By | 2013-11-20T18:52:43-08:00 November 20th, 2013|General|44 Comments

August 2, 2000 – We all have dates that changed our lives. This is mine. My mother, brother, and I were pulling in the driveway from the grocery store, when my grandmother, Aunt, and Uncle came walking up. Photo Courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/bestdesigns Every one of them had a look of pain in their face, and my grandmother’s eyes were red and swollen. I remember my grandmother asking to speak with my mom in private.  So my brother and I stayed and put the groceries away. I vividly remember looking at my brother, who was only 7 at the [...]

29 10, 2013

How Halloween Came to Be

By | 2013-10-29T23:20:06-07:00 October 29th, 2013|General|43 Comments

 **For a great listing of local Halloween festivities, click here or here. Halloween-time is my favorite time of the year. Admittedly, I’m more in love with the harvest look that shakes the trees, the colder weather, and the infamous PSL, but I also relish the spooky-murky-creepiness of the only holiday that fits my love of X-Files, Harry Potter, and Tim Burton all into one day. Photo Courtesy of ©Stockphoto.com//gianlucabartoli But besides making the mortuary a “cool” place to work for a month, this holiday is also the only one that actively recognized the dead in its celebration. Do [...]