28 August 2004

--- Death Pioneer Has "Graduated"

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the Swiss-born psychiatrist responsible for demystifying death and dying through her more than 20 books died in her home in Scottsdale, Arizona last Tuesday. She was 78.

In her now famous 1969 book, On Death and Dying, Kübler-Ross popularized the concept of the dying going through five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. In one her latest works, in her 1997 autobiography titled The Wheel of Life, she expressed her desire that she wanted her death to "come as a warm embrace."

And I think it did. She expired surrounded by her children, relatives, and friends.

"For the past two years, I have --- thanks to a series of strokes --- been totally dependent on others for basic care. Every day is spent struggling to get from bed to a chair to the bathroom and back again. My only wish has been to leave my body, like a butterfly shedding its cocoon, and finally merge with the great light," she wrote in that book.

For her own death she has been in the acceptance stage for years, according to her son, Kenneth Ross. "For her, death was not something to fear. It was like a graduation," he said. [MercuryNews]

As a final tribute to her, I share with you some of her quotable quotes (from her website and hope that even in death, she may continue to enlighten you that death is not to be feared, because likened to a journey, it is just one of those stations where you must pass in order to get to your true destination.

"Dying is nothing to fear. It can be the most wonderful experience of your life. It all depends on how you have lived. If you live each day of your life right, then you have nothing to fear."

"And after your death, when most of you for the first time realize what life here is all about, you will begin to see that your life here is almost nothing but the sum total of every choice you have made during every moment of your life. Your thoughts, which you are responsible for, are as real as your deeds. You will begin to realize that every word and every deed affects your life and has also touched thousands of lives."

"It is only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth --- and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had."

"We run after values that, at death, become zero. At the end of your life, nobody asks you how many degrees you have, or how many mansions you built, or how many Rolls Royces you could afford. That's what dying patients teach you."

"Guilt is perhaps the most painful companion of death."

"For those who seek to understand it, death is a highly creative force. The highest spiritual values of life can originate from the thought and study of death."
-- Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (see her website)

Micketymoc of Stepping on Poop also has a great post on Elisabeth which you might want to read. Check it out here.

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