An interview with poet and writer, Catharine Murray about grieving and poetry. In 2004, Catharine’s son Chan died of leukemia despite months of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. Catharine has been writing poems about her grief since the week after he died. She talks about how her poems help her slow down and listen to the pain inside. They also provide a little space between her deep grief and the mundane act of typing on the keyboard. Catharine reads three of her poems that speak to her sense of loss, capturing the way that he is “still as close as our hearts can bear to hold him.”
An interview with author Art Frank about telling stories about illness. Art describes his own experience with an early heart attack and later cancer. He describes the way the medical world can be oblivious to the patient’s needs and subjective experience. He talks about the importance of finding your own voice after your body has been colonized by treatment. He offered examples of the ways that medical professionals can connect more personally with the stories of their patients. He also describes ways that it is both difficult and imperative that we learn to stay present with difficult stories of illness, our own, and those of others. Art’s book is The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness and Ethics.
An interview with author Susan Conley about her experience of coping with breast cancer in China, while parenting two young boys. Susan describes how writing helped her work through her deep fear and sadness about her boys possibly not having a mother. She also talks about “pre-writing” and how she had struggled with resentment of those without cancer, and how that dissipated through the act of writing itself. Susan describes her decision to write as honestly as possible, exposing less than ideal parenting, or spousal moments as part of her story. We end the interview with a discussion of the Telling Room, which Susan co-founded. She describes the ways that supporting children to write and tell their story can give them a powerful new sense of identity and of being heard and valued. Susan’s book is, The Foremost Good Fortune.
An interview with author and trainer, Tom Wootton about his transition from Bipolar Disorder to Bipolar In Order. Tom describes how current treatment paradigms teach people to view their highs an lows as problems to be gotten rid of, and that it is possible with training and skills development to stay aware of intense moods while experiencing them as a beautiful part of life. He describes the difference between the feelings of depression and the behaviors in reaction to it, like staying in bed, or attempting suicide. He describes the way that he begins to help people find value in depression and mania and learn to see each state as an opportunity for growth and non-reactivity.
An interview with hospice chaplain Ellie Mercer about caring for patients at the end of life. [Read more…]