grief

  As the adage goes: home is where the heart is. This may seem self-explanatory, but none of our close primate cousins have anything like homes. Whether we live in an igloo or in Buckingham Palace, the fact that Homo sapiens create homes is one of the greatest puzzles of our evolution.

In Home: How Habitat Made Us Human, neuroanthropologist John S. Allen marshals evidence from evolutionary anthropology, neuroscience, the study of emotion, and modern sociology to argue that the home is one of the most important cognitive, technological, and cultural products of our species’ evolution. It is because we have homes—relatively secure against whatever horrors lurk outside—that human civilizations have been able to achieve the periods of explosive cultural and creative progress that are our species’ hallmark.

  Death is something we all confront ― it touches our families, our homes, our hearts. And yet we have grown used to denying its existence, treating it as an enemy to be beaten back with medical advances.

We are living at a unique point in human history. People are living longer than ever, yet the longer we live, the more taboo and alien our mortality becomes. Yet we, and our loved ones, still remain mortal. People today still struggle with this fact, as we have done throughout our entire history. What led us to this point? What drove us to sanitize death and make it foreign and unfamiliar?

In Death's Summer Coat: What the History of Death and Dying Teaches Us About Life and Living, Brandy Schillace shows how talking about death, and the rituals associated with it, can help provide answers.

  Experts in end-of-life care tell us that we should talk about death and dying with relatives and friends, but how do we get such conversations off the ground in a society that historically has avoided the topic?

In Let's Talk About Death: Asking the Questions that Profoundly Change the Way We Live and Die, Steve Gordon and Irene Kacandes share the results of a no-holds-barred discussion they conducted for several years over email.

  When Allan Johnson asked his dying father where he wanted his ashes to be placed, his father replied--without hesitation--that it made no difference to him at all.

In his memoir, Not from Here, Johnson embarks on a 2,000-mile journey across the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains to find the place where his father's ashes belonged.

More than a personal narrative, Not from Here illuminates the national silence around unresolved questions of accountability, race, and identity politics, and the dilemma of how to take responsibility for a past we did not create.

  At their childhood home after their mother’s funeral, Nate gets high and Jeremy focusses on work waiting for him in the city -- both brothers trying to send their minds anywhere but where they are.

This is the starting point of A Little More Alive - a Musical Theatre Lab production currently running on Barrington Stage Company’s St. Germain Stage in Pittsfield, MA through August 8th.

The musical, directed by Sheryl Kaller and featuring actors Van Hughes, Daniel Jenkins, Nicolette Robinson, Michael Tacconi, and Emily Walton, tells the story of dealing not only with the devastation of loss but the revelation that the person who has died had a secret. A secret that warps all of their memories of her and both monumental and mundane moment in their lives.

Nick Blaemire wrote the show - book, music, and lyrics. We speak with him here about the process.

  In an exploration of the afterlife that is part personal, part prescriptive, Claire Bidwell Smith invites us on her journey into the unknown.

She wonders: How do we grieve our loved ones without proof that they live on? Will we ever see them again? Can they see us now, even though they are gone?

  When Sukey Forbes lost her six-year-old daughter, Charlotte, to a rare genetic disorder, her life felt as if it were shattered forever. Descended from two distinguished New England families, Forbes was raised in a rarefied—if eccentric—life of privilege. Yet, Forbes’s family history is also rich with spiritual seekers, including her great-great-great-grandfather Ralph Waldo Emerson. On the family’s private island enclave off Cape Cod, apparitions have always been as common as the servants who once walked the back halls. But the “afterlife” took on new meaning once Forbes dipped into the world of clairvoyants to reconnect with Charlotte.

With a mission to help others by sharing her own story, Forbes chronicles a world of ghosts that reawakens us to a lost American spiritual tradition. The Angel in My Pocket tells a moving tale of one mother’s undying love for her child.

  We all deal with loss.

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York representative Paul Tonko tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock about his father Stanley Tonko, who recently died at 94.

  On November 29, 2007 Joseph Luzzi's life forever changed. His wife, Catherine, eight-and-a-half months pregnant, was killed in a car crash.

Before she died, doctors delivered their daughter, Isabel. His new memoir is In A Dark Wood. It tells the story how he dealt with his grief in part through the writings of Dante.

  In November of 2007, Bard College Professor Joseph Luzzi’s wife, Katherine, who was 8 1/2 months pregnant, was in a fatal car accident. Their daughter, Isabel, was born by C-section, just 45 minutes before her mother died on the operating table.

Suddenly a widower and a single father to an infant, Luzzi saw life turned upside down by this new unexpected reality, one of intense grief and loneliness.

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