Wisdom on mortality from Ira Byock; a young woman’s reflection on magic and memory; Sharon Salzberg on recalibrating brain bias; and Krista’s five approaches to a wise life.
Courtney Seiberling on rediscovering the magic of things, even after deep loss seems to drain our world of wonder.
It can feel painful to reflect on our mortality — especially the mortality of our loved ones. But maybe embracing the reality of death can help us to fear it less, and appreciate the wonder of life all the more.
With the wisdom of Jane Kenyon, a contemplation on gratitude and ordinary grace in our own finite lives.
If you could speak to a passed friend or family member, what would you say? An exploration of the healing that can happen when we stay in relationship with the ones we love, even beyond the end of life
Mortality is real for all of us, regardless of whether we believe in fate. Marty Kaplan contemplates the hubris of making plans in a universe of improv.
To embrace life despite the truth of suffering is an audacious act. Jennifer Michael Hecht guides us through Albert Camus on the myth of Sisyphus, as a reassuringly contrary argument for life over death.
Marie Howe marks the space left in her life by her late brother — tiny movements and moments now conspicuously absent. A tender elegy for a loved one gone too soon.
Our culture has a profound discomfort with walking openly through grief. An exploration of the healing power of companionship and openness after loss — embodied in groundbreaking gatherings for millennials longing to heal together.
Parker Palmer shares the poetry of a president: a testament to the healing power of words, and embracing the shadow and light within.
One of the hibakusha, the survivors of Hiroshima, reflects on life after the bombing in frank words: to honor the lives destroyed, and hope that her experience with death imparts a lesson about the preciousness of life.
We find ourselves in a time of deep reckoning, and we must turn to each other for companionship and wisdom. Collected guidance on claiming the whole of our identities, and finding compassion for experiences that are not our own.
Elie Wiesel, the beloved writer known for his profound memoir of the Holocaust, Night, speaks of the power of prayer and forgiveness in the wake of profound suffering.
Unitarian-Universalist law enforcement chaplain Kate Braestrup tells the story of a police woman who embodies the both/and of love and new life, and crime and death.
How do we cut through distraction to nurture our best selves forward? Our executive editor shares reflections on rediscovering the glory around and within us, from the journey of an olympic runner, to the lyrical labyrinth of rap, to healing the void of loss with art and memory.
Death and illness are rational fears, yet there are some truths we need to ignore in order to function. For people with health anxiety, a strange lump can incite a multitude of fears. A generous (sometimes humorous) window into life with hypochondria.
Using a children’s book on death as a scaffolding, Courtney Martin makes a case for kids teaching adults how to work through grief and death in better ways.
In the waiting room of a doctor’s office, the dramas of life and death play out quietly. A reflection on the power of paying attention to the stranger, and to the burdens we all carry.
Is it possible to teach doctors how to give bad news? A writer’s probing reflection on hearing — and giving — the hardest messages to receive.
On a retreat at a cabin in the northern woods of Wisconsin, Parker Palmer strings together pearls of contemplation on silence and solitude. With the help of Merton and Rumi, he finds the catharsis of being forced to reckon with one’s angels and demons.
The ritual of lighting luminaria on Christmas Eve in New Mexico inspires this reflection on grief and waiting for the light.
Familiar items are strangely comforting throughout life, much less in difficult times. A gay man discovers himself through his ongoing relationship with a Renoir painting.
The daughter of the renowned Hindi poet Kailash Vajpeyi turns to ancient rivers and archaic rituals to find comfort in the uninterrupted thread running through her past, present, and future.
An affirmation of presence, a victory of joy, a connection maintained: these are the things a young mother observes in her elderly next door neighbors, as a husband gently tends to his wife in her final days. A beautiful account of what love truly looks like.
Can the process of grieving go on too long? Especially when you write about it for a living? Jane Gross on her bout with understanding death’s unsettled trajectory.
With the visual glories of autumn, the living is hidden within the dying. A pondering about this season of paradox and the “the endless interplay of living and dying” we all must embrace.
From small kindnesses to a classic love song reimagined and singleness to transformation, Trent Gilliss poetically curates an intermingling of murmurations and ideas — including a remembrance of the legendary Grace Lee Boggs.
There is no handbook for grief. With grace, kindness, and gentleness, a daughter candidly shares her experience of mourning after the unexpected loss of her father.
Summer’s passing and earth’s decay can elicit a deepening melancholy for some. A pondering on the “paradoxical dance” of darkness and light and giving oneself over to its endless interplay — with lyrical assists from Rainier Marie Rilke and Thomas Merton.
For World Suicide Prevention Day, a story of a son’s loss of his father by suicide. The writer Eric Marcus talks about family silence, learning to share his story, and discovering compassion for his father and healing for himself.
In the aftermath of her brother’s untimely death, a sister contemplates life’s darkness — as well as the ever-accessible, unfaltering light which illuminates the path. A call to help recover lost light for those who are in darkness, and for ourselves.
When asked how long they’d been married, Aljosie Harding named their time together down to the minute. Omid Safi marvels at the unexpected and profound love that infuses our world at any stage of living — and it’s awe-inspiring power to provide hope in the face of grief.
Each summer, our columnist has been making a pilgrimage to one of nature’s great treasures: the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. In his twilight years, he ponders the resurrection that takes place under the most destructive circumstances and the “vast web of life in which body and spirit are one.”
To be confronted with a serious illness is to be confronted with a fear of death for most of us. How do we balance hope with realism? And how do we age with grace? Drawing on Atul Gawande’s book, Mary Jo Bennett highlights some ways our culture is evolving in its relationship with death.
With the near-constant news of extra-judicial police killings and mass shootings, it would be easy to live in a constant state of fear. Faced with his own fragile mortality, a Buddhist contemplates our collective fear and grief. For him, meditation is not about relaxation but about awakening to life — in its wonder and in its sorrow.
Pediatric oncologists and parents alike are searching for someone to help them bear the suffering they must witness. An essay reflecting on doctors, Dante, and treating children with cancer.
Sometimes we buzz through our social media streams and forget to pause, connect, and read more deeply. The marvelous writer Terry Tempest Williams teaches us to do just that — all through the story of her dog.
Some days you remember forever and ever. A picture and a poem to celebrate Haggadah possibilities during Passover.
Inspired by a mother’s observation of her toddler’s awe of the world, Parker Palmer reflects on the mystery of the world and the grace of wholeness — delighting in the gift of life as a septuagenarian.
Some of the best things of the week: on quiet nobility, thin places, the fist of fate, severed friendships, and Malcolm X.
The memory of a father weeping reminds a son how men often don’t tend to grief well. But, by sharing emotions, fathers may be a key in helping boys grow into stronger, more compassionate human beings.
We are told to embrace the fact that death is part of life. Embracing emotional honesty, Parker Palmer shakes his salty fist at fate’s inevitable hand with a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay.
The highly acclaimed and beloved poet Mary Oliver reads her four-part poem, “The Fourth Sign of the Zodiac,” — a poem in which she explores death, purpose, and the call to live after being diagnosed with lung cancer several years ago.
In a somber week, Omid Safi offers a powerful reminder to remember the humanity at stake in world news, Reza Aslan provides needed context, Parker Palmer reflects on the illuminating power of Thomas Merton’s words, a writer muses on our discomfort with death, and Courtney Martin pens a love letter to the shared silences that join us together.
Have our funeral rituals disengaged us from the embodied act of physically burying the dead? A grandson on the our discomfort about death — and we can reconnect with the lives we lost.
A tribute to the children and adults who died in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School honored with a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye. A list we must return to and remember out of love and hope for a safer world.
From a virtuosic performance to an audio selfie and poems on abundance, a feast of ideas and passages for you to take into your week.
Atul Gawande’s new book on the aging and the dying process inspires this column on turning bearing witness to our own instincts and doing things a different way.
Sometimes a song can help us through the darkest hours of our lives. Reflecting upon the loss of her father, Jen Raffensperger shares Josh Ritter’s “Lantern” as her greatest musical moment for the Your Audio Selfie project.
Our executive editor’s weekly post on all things curious and aspiring — on topics from leading a less busy life to seeking rootedness and a cancer patient’s call to her senses.