The Othering of Tom Hayden

I need you to know this: I had my name before he was famous. And though my family moved from Detroit to Saskatoon during the Vietnam War years that made him so, I need you to understand that my father was never a draft dodger. I have no quarrel with the decisions, to flee conscription […]

A Wolf Dies

“The Silver Lake Wolves” sounds like the title of a young adult novel, or possibly an indie rock band with lots of close harmony and beards. Actually, it was the name given by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to a small family of wolves […]

The Four Stages of Twitter Grief

2016 has been ruthless. Yesterday, Gene Wilder died. In July it was Elie Wiesel and Miss Cleo. In June it was Muhammad Ali. In April it was Chyna and Prince. In January it was David Bowie and Alan Rickman. In 2016 we grieve in public, on social media. When Prince died people wrote millions of Tweets […]

What Happened Next

My husband died.  He wasn’t young any more and was sick and weak but we weren’t expecting his death to come as quickly as it did, within a few days, almost overnight.  He just went away.  Maybe there are worse things than a quick, quiet death. Here’s what happened next. My brother and sister-in-law (who […]

Death Barged In

Pia’s birthday was last week. I didn’t call her or send a card or bake a cake. Such efforts would have fallen on deaf ears, because she died six years ago in January. Pia was the older sister I’d never had, and she’d welcomed me into her life with apricots and a warm pot of […]

What is a good death?

My beloved neighbor Joanne was 87 years old when her son found her dead in the hallway of her old farmhouse on Monday. They’d gone to a funeral together that morning — a younger relative had died of pancreatic cancer — and after lunch he’d dropped her off at home. When he returned later that […]

Until the Bitter End

Last night I read Robin Marantz Henig’s beautiful story about Peggy Battin, a bioethicist and advocate for patients who wish to end their lives, and her husband, Brooke Hopkins. A bike accident in 2008 left Brooke paralyzed from the shoulders down and in need of almost constant care. Some days Brooke wants to live; other […]

Guest Post: Death’s Eternal Logistics

I spent several hours on Sunday afternoon in what has to be the most charming cemetery in New York City. If I didn’t know what I was looking for, I would have missed its arched iron gate, tucked into 2nd Avenue just north of East 2nd Street, where the East Village meets the Lower East Side. Once through, […]