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Messages - Joe Piazzo

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"The Grieving Through? series / Grieving Through Guilt
« on: February 06, 2007, 04:04:45 PM »

Loss is an emotion, both common and unique. Common because everybody experiences it, unique because the person you lost is irreplaceable.  When people talk about what it feels like to lose a loved one, it's surprising how they choose the same words.  They say they are angry, lonely and heartsick.  And another word people say just as often is guilt.  It seems it takes a little longer to recognize the feeling of guilt, and it usually comes up in a sentence that begins, "I only wish I had . . .."  It's natural to feel anger over losing someone or to feel lonely or brokenhearted, but the combination of guilt with grief, although prevalent, is harder to understand.       

Guilt is accusing yourself of having done or said things for which you're sorry or reproaching yourself for having neglected to do or say things that now you wish you had.  Some sense of guilt is inevitable, because we can always think of things to regret and things that could have gone better.   We need to be careful here, lest we fall into a deep pit of self-reproach.  The truth of the matter is that most people are quicker to accuse themselves than they are to forgive themselves. But if you become your own prosecutor, who then is your defender? 

In our experience at Continuum Hospice, we know that the feeling of guilt at the death of a loved one is usually focused in three areas.  The first is the guilt associated with memories of the one we lost and the relationship we had with him or her -- the kind of thing I mentioned above and shall discuss further ("I just wish I had . . . ").   The next area of potential guilt may be that connected with anxiety over whether our loved one received the best available treatment and care.  And the third area is the feeling of guilt around our being the ones to survive.

It Should or Could or Might Have Been

The finality of death makes us realize that there will not be opportunities to talk with our loved ones any more. No more chances to say, "I love you" to them and make sure they know it, or to hug and kiss them, and no more chance to say "I am sorry, please forgive me."   

Difficult as it is to see a loved one decline and fail and finally succumb to death, no time has greater value than the days and hours leading up to the end.  Although, it is no less sad when someone dies expectedly than suddenly or accidentally, one great aspect of hospice is that our care does afford the opportunity to take advantage of whatever time is left to talk with our loved ones.  Even in cases where loved ones can no longer respond verbally, most family members and friends talk to them trusting that they probably do hear. 

If you were able to speak with your loved one before death occurred, you may have found an opportunity to reaffirm your love and apologize for past mistakes and become fully reconciled. Moreover, your presence with them may have provided the occasions they needed in order to give voice to the matters on their mind and heart. 

Are there now still things that you feel the need to say?  Some people visit the cemetery.  There, at the gravesite, they speak through silence or sighing.  Other people whisper to their loved ones at night, as though their bedmates' aura still rests on the pillows.  And some folks that yearn for an acknowledgement of their feelings of guilt, desiring to hear a word of forgiveness for their shortcomings, will speak to a spiritual counselor, a member of the clergy, a relative or trusted friend.

Was the Care There?

One strand of a silver lining around expected death is the focus that hospice care brings to treatment decisions.  As denial is replaced with honesty, pain controlled and symptoms managed, the assurance of maximum comfort care becomes paramount, even as medical science continues the quest to discover cures.

If you find yourself asking whether you did everything possible for your loved one -- from a clinical point of view -- consider the reasons you chose hospice.  Perhaps the medical treatments, pre-hospice, were becoming so burdensome that the "cure" was literally worse than the disease.  Discerning the difference is never really easy, but once the decisions are made, most people find that a sense of peace supplants anxiety.

Many people come on to the hospice program because they want to be in their own home rather than a hospital.  Oftentimes, the quality of life at home is so vastly preferable, particularly when relatives are nearby, that the wisdom of choosing hospice becomes immediately evident. Perhaps your loved one was treated with palliative care in the hospital.  Wherever the end came, remember that you helped to assure access to excellent physicians, caring nurses and spiritual counselors, as well as, in many cases, social workers, home health aids and volunteers. 

It is hard to imagine feeling guilty for providing the most appropriate and excellent care available for your loved one during the end of life. Just the opposite! You recognized the wisdom in ceasing to do what was called for once and beginning the right thing at the right time, and there is no guilt attached to that.

How Can I Go On Living?

Grieving through the guilt means that we understand it to be natural.  It is something we get through by living through because it is pretty hard to escape or avoid it. An almost universal aspect of guilt is the feeling of remorse, not only over having lost a loved one, but also for being the person to survive. Often we feel that we ourselves are the ones who rightly should be gone and that they should be alive. Which is frequently the case when younger spouses or younger siblings die before elder ones - and unquestionably true when parents lose children of whatever age.

Death always reminds us how little we control life or destiny.  Our best-laid plans for the future are apt to go astray.  It is normal to feel some guilt for being the one who escapes death when people we love have died.  But this speaks more to the randomness of disease and the uncertainty of life than to the question of who deserves to be alive.

To ask whether your own life is now justified is beside the point.  The point is, feeling guilty for being alive is hardly a formula for health and happiness. One of the greatest testimonies we can give to the memory of our loved ones is to live life fully.  It is almost as if we have a duty to live for them, as they would be doing now, if somehow, they were with us again.

Whatever has happened in the past, the future needs to be less about self-accusation and more about the possibility of forgiveness.  In this way we will gain confidence for today and hope for tomorrow.  As the burden of guilt is lifted, fresh opportunities become clear - opportunities to move through the angst, to accept that we are acceptable, and to love not only the life we miss but also the life yet to be.

This meditation was written by
the Reverend William Purdy, STM, DD

Copyright (c) 2004  All rights reserved

This publication is made possible by a gift from Roland DeL.Rinsland, Ed. D.

"The Grieving Through? series / Grieving Through Time
« on: February 06, 2007, 04:02:28 PM »

Sometimes people consider that the months went quickly as the earlier hours of intense grief yielded to lighter moments that signaled brighter days. For them it hardly seems possible, as the anniversary of the loved one's death approaches, that he or she has been gone already for one full year.  Other times, folks say their grief is felt just as sharply as on the day the loved one died, and for them time has plodded by.  To the extent that any generalization can be applied to bereavement, most people say the year went like this: it passed faster than they thought it would, although on some days - usually days of special significance -- the memories were sorely tender and the hours very long.

What the Year Was Like

We have come to a milestone.  The marker by the path measures our movement through time since the hour we released our loved ones to go forth beyond time. Here is a stopping place.  Let us pause, and looking back, reflect on the present and survey what destiny may lie ahead.
For everyone, some of the days of the year gone by have been tinged with more sadness than were others.  During the past twelve months, people have said things like, "Today was my uncle's birthday; he would have been 57," and, "Every autumn, I always remember my mother taking me to school and telling me I made her proud."  

For those who were married, observing the wedding anniversary alone was a struggle. Atop a dresser in the bedroom, the picture of a radiant young bride and groom frames a memory.  But the happiness of that memory is tempered now with sighs.

People whose devotion to one another lay outside tradition said they remembered their partners on the day when they both did become, in fact, inseparable.  "Even though our love was not sanctioned," said one, "our commitment was genuine."  

A young man who graduated college said of his father, who died this year, "He was my first and best teacher in life."  An elderly mother who lost her adult daughter said that she choked up whenever she thought of their "parallel memories": the court-ship of either of them and both of their weddings, the births of each of their children, and the deaths of both of their husbands.  

To complete the first year of bereavement is to have begun to come to terms with a certain loss of self-definition.  When we lose our parents, we are no longer son or daughter; when our spouse dies, we are no longer husband or wife; and when our children leave this earth, we cease to be parents.
Against this backdrop, it was a year of  "first times" - the first time in church or synagogue alone, the first summer vacation, the first walk through Central Park alone, the first Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's alone. The family reunion, bowling club, fishing trip, baseball game, Bridge tournament was not the same this year, will never be the same.

And so the time passes.

Looking back, you can see for yourself, it is understandable to feel low around the anniversary of your loved one's death, even if you had been gathering strength and achieving peace.  Think of the emotion you felt as you experienced the sort of days considered above, as you faced them for the first time without your loved one. Though memories like these are bittersweet, dwell with them at this time, if you can, and you will gain an insight.  

How Things Seem Now

Now, in marking the passing of one year, it is as if all the feelings from every day since that day will be condensed into an occasion with amplified emotion, the observance of which is both sad and significant.  So while this time is doubtless hard, two things are important to bear in mind.  First, our experience has shown what you probably already know by intuition, that observing the anniversary is an important step in progressing along your own journey.  

There are a number of ways that you can observe the ending of the first year.

Many people report that visiting the grave or final resting-place brings deep satisfaction, both in fulfilling their sense of duty and also in finding comfort.  Some take a living plant there or place a wreath.  Others practice the custom of lighting a candle at home or putting a flower before the portrait of the beloved.  Those who are members of a faith community can request that the name of their loved one be included in the prayers of the departed at their house of worship.  People also stress that it is important to be in touch with their own families and, if other than their own, with the family of the deceased, unless some unusual hindrance is involved.  

Still other possibilities for acknowledging the date include calling a mutual friend and, unless choosing to be alone, inviting people to share a meal, perhaps at a restaurant or club that holds special memories.  Making a gift in memory of the loved one is always a praiseworthy idea, and hospice is always an appropriate charity.  All these things ritualize the significance of the occasion and, in so doing, honor your loved one and help you as you continue to sort through the loss you have sustained.

The second point to remember is that letting yourself experience whatever feelings the event may trigger will not necessarily "set you back" in your grief.  Just the opposite is true.  Though the day may be difficult for you and you may feel blue, the progress you have made in becoming reconciled to your new reality should resume.  In many cases, the grieving will be more tempered and less raw than it was in the year gone by.          

Where the Future Leads

One of the more frequently asked questions that comes up in support groups or counseling sessions is, "Will I ever get completely over having lost my loved one?"  The answer, too, comes in the form of a question: "Do you really want to get over it -- completely?"  It turns out that what most people want is for the pain to go away but not the memory.  At this one-year juncture, a good marker of progress is being able to distinguish between pain and memory and being able to let go of the pain but hold on to the memory.  Up to now, these have been pretty much intertwined.

All this is to say that whatever the future holds, you will be able to fulfill your own destiny more completely by not worrying about losing the memory of your loved one.  You will not forget, ever, and the feeling of their presence will not leave you.  But let both their memory and the sense of their being accompany you with comfort and inspiration, not with unrelenting sadness and woe.  If we pursue our course steadfastly, and purpose, some day others will remember us,
hopefully, not with tears of sorrow only but also with thanksgiving.   That will mean we have endured the sorrow of life and the beauty of love; that we moved with grace through grief and persevered to affirm all that is sacred and eternal.             

This meditation was written by
the Reverend William Purdy, STM, DD

Copyright (c) 2004 All rights reserved.

This publication is made possible by a gift from Roland DeL. Rinsland, Ed. D.

"The Grieving Through? series / Grieving Through Responsibility
« on: February 06, 2007, 03:13:41 PM »

Life continually presents us with obligations. Some things we do routinely - work, pay bills, keep appointments and walk the dog.  Other responsibilities are extraordinary.  Like the one that arises when a loved one gets sick. To see life slipping away from a parent or a sibling, from our spouse or best friend brings about a series of special responsibilities. It is natural that we devote extra time and energy to care for them because love compels action. 

We also have obligations to ourselves, of course, like eating balanced meals, getting rest, keeping our own medical appointments and taking time to relax.  But in your life recently, responsibility to a loved one has taken precedence over your own needs.

If you were able to be present for your loved one in any way, you met a profound obligation. The responsibility may have been so consuming that you placed your own life "on hold" for the sake of the one you loved. Just consider for a moment all the things you may have taken on.

You spent long hours with your loved one, and you were probably more awake and watchful the more he or she was sleeping. Keeping a vigil was a beautiful thing to do.  Your presence meant more than you may know.
It may be that one of your new responsibilities was to become the knowledgeable "primary care giver."  You needed to know when medication had to be given.  Know when the nurse was coming.  Know when the bedding needed changing.  Your being responsible in this way probably enabled your loved one to spend more time at home, which is where most of us wish to be. 

Another exceptional responsibility is making important decisions about medical care.  Being a health care proxy required you to weigh treatments that were necessary to enhance comfort against treatments that did not help. It included listening to doctors and nurses explain the difference between procedures that are beneficial and those that are burdensome, between tests that are appropriate and those that could be eliminated.  Whether your loved one was on hospice, in hospital or at home, you wanted them to receive maximum pain relief, the best symptom management and comfort care.  Now it is time for you to receive your own comfort care.               

Perhaps your responsibility was to be the family liaison, talking regularly to relatives and friends, giving updates on your loved one's condition.  Now is the time to be concerned about the condition of your own health and well being.

After the end came, and before too much time elapsed, the funeral or memorial needed to be planned.  Would it be in a mortuary or a house of worship?  Responsibilities included: ask the right person to give the eulogy, choose special music, arrange for a reception, feel the pressure to send acknowledgements to those people who came or sent flowers or cards. The responsibilities can seem endless, but an end is in sight. 

As the estate is settled, you may be faced with yet another set of obligations, including obtaining death certificates, signing affidavits and dispersing property.  When the time seems right, and not before, the closets will need to be cleaned out and heirlooms and keepsakes passed on to be cherished by another generation. 

After all that you have been through, it is perfectly understandable if you say that you feel drained emotionally, physically and even spiritually.  When we lose a special love, the feeling is that of having someone ripped from our arms.  This is the very meaning of bereavement - to be torn apart.  The time has come to begin to let the broken heart mend.

More than 2300 years ago the writer of the book we call Ecclesiastes said, "For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born and a time to die
A time to break down and a time to build up
A time to weep and a time to laugh
A time to mourn and a time to dance.

In the same vein, we could continue:

"There is a time to bear responsibility for the one we love, who is dying; and then a time to be responsible to ourselves, who still live." 

I hope that you take satisfaction in the knowledge that you met your responsibilities to your loved one.  If you are like many other people who take their responsibility seriously, you were patient, faithful and vigilant to the end. 

Even though you are still mourning, and may be sad for quite some time, you will do honor to the memory of the one you loved by letting others reach out to you as you yourself begin to pay attention to your needs.     

Your charge of caring for the one who died is over.  Your mission is accomplished.  You persevered.  You met your responsibility to your beloved and your responsibility to your loved one is now over.  Now, the responsible thing is to let your own heart begin to heal.

For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. May you begin to enter a season of restfulness and a time of peace; a season of refreshment and a time of comfort; a season of new life -- and a time of hope for the future.       


This meditation by the Rev. William Purdy, DD, is adapted from an address given at a Memorial Service sponsored by the Lilian and Benjamin Hertzberg Palliative Care Institute at Mount Sinai Medical Center in the City of New York.

This publication is made possible by a gift from Roland DeL. Rinsland, Ed. D.

ARTICLES / For the Families of the Dying, Coaching as the Hours Wane
« on: January 05, 2007, 06:41:44 PM »
May 20, 2006
For the Families of the Dying, Coaching as the Hours Wane
Greg Torso's death announced itself with a long exhale and then silence, as the breath literally left his body. His mother had been told to expect this, so she was not scared.

Ms. Torso had worried that an undertaker would barge in moments after her 42-year-old son died, before she had had time to say goodbye. She had been assured she could spend as much time with the body as she wanted.

Could she bathe and dress him? Save a lock of his hair? Commemorate his passing with wine and reminiscence at the bedside? All of that was fine, she had been told, setting the stage for a death that she later said had left her "on the edge of euphoria."
Ms. Torso was coached and consoled through the final days and hours of her son's life, a rarity even under the umbrella of hospice, which for three decades has promised Americans a good death, pain-free, peaceful and shared with loved ones at home.
But there is a growing realization that hospice has its limitations. Doctors, nurses, social workers, clerics and volunteers are rarely there for the final hours, known as active dying, when a family may need their comforts the most.
Now those final moments are a focus of new attention as hospices broaden their range of services, inspired by a growing body of research on the very end of life. More are encouraging the calming properties of music, meditation, aromatherapy and massage for both patients and families. Some are increasing the training for so-called 11th-hour companions who families can request be with them.
Holding a dying person's hand may be frightening for a loved one alone at the bedside. Relatives and friends may not know that hearing is the last sense to go, and neglect to soothe the patient with a steady, reassuring murmur. Leaving the room briefly may mean missing the moment of passing and always carrying that regret.

"These final moments matter, but often, when families and patients need us most ? to explain the process, calm the situation, take away the negative energy and allow them to be more present ? we aren't there," said Henry Fersko-Weiss, vice president for counseling services at Continuum Hospice Care in New York City, which has a new program that has been keeping vigil with the dying and their families.

The American hospice movement has grown from one program in 1974 to 3,650 in 2004, serving eight million Americans, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. And more people are expected to choose hospice care as it extends its reach into hospitals and nursing homes, where palliative care is not routinely available. At the same time, those who seek aggressive treatment up to the end are welcome at hospice programs that once turned them away but that are now "open access."

Despite all these changes, most people, in fear or denial, wait until the last minute to enroll. That robs them of the preparation that was so vital to Greg Torso's mother, Carol, and that hospice leaders, like Andy Duncan of the national organization, say should be routine.
"Actually coaching and counseling people through the time of active dying," Mr. Duncan said, "is something we hope to convince every hospice in the nation to do."


The Torsos were the first to use Continuum's vigil program, which has coached and consoled a dozen families in its first year.
Greg had survived 15 years with AIDS and related cancers. When his doctor said further treatment would be useless, Mr. Torso enrolled in hospice, and welcomed extra help from Mr. Fersko-Weiss and 29 specially trained volunteers who call themselves doulas.
That is a Greek term for women who serve, more commonly at home births to assist both midwife and mother. But the guiding philosophy is the same and borrows from Eastern religions: to honor the end of life as well as the beginning.

Mr. Fersko-Weiss is a gentle man who insinuates himself slowly. When he first described the dying process to Ms. Torso, she found it hard to listen. So they shifted gears, talking about Greg's life and looking at photos of him in better days.

On a subsequent visit, Ms. Torso sought reassurance that she would not "just fall apart." On another, Mr. Fersko-Weiss told her there might come a moment when she would have to give her son explicit permission to die. She did ? "You can go, Greggy. You can go whenever you want" ? toward the end of what would be a 68-hour vigil, involving 10 doulas (pronounced DOO-lehs).

Gwen Lee's needs were different as she prepared for the passing of her eldest sister, Vivienne, who died at 60 after a 10-year battle with brain cancer.

Years of pretending that all was fine had given way, for both of them, flight attendants from Ireland, to acceptance. As Gwen put it, "We were prepared for the end of her life, but no one else was." Some friends and relatives began second-guessing the decisions, arguing at Viv's bedside, arriving uninvited and creating a "soap opera," Gwen said, "where we were left trying to keep them happy."
It is not uncommon, hospice workers say, for those not involved in day-to-day care to bring their own fears and conflict to the deathbed and inadvertently become a burden. Into the tumult came Mr. Fersko-Weiss, a Buddhist whose religion says that "what happens to the soul is partly determined by how it leaves this life." The scene of death, he said, is a "sacred space," and the doula's job is to protect it.
To that end, he and Gwen, 51, considered moving Vivienne, and her two beloved cats, to an in-patient hospice where they could control who visited. Just knowing there was a fallback position reassured them.

"It made all the difference," Gwen said. "Henry pulled me out of the chaos and kept my head on the goal."

The Vigil

Chloe Tartaglia, a pre-med student, yoga teacher and former birth doula, had never seen anyone die when she volunteered for the vigil program.

She learned the signs of imminent death in her 16-hour training program, how to match her breathing to the patient's and use visualization and aromatherapy to calm everyone in the room. On the subway, headed to her first case, Ms. Tartaglia, whose father was a hospice physician, concentrated on her goal: to be "like water and flow to the place where there's need."

She found herself in a shabby apartment near New York University. A tiny woman lay in bed, wasting away from "failure to thrive," Ms. Tartaglia had been told. The woman's husband was terrified, venturing into the room only to give her morphine, as he had been instructed by hospice nurses.

The woman's daughter, none too fond of her stepfather, was at work, having left behind a phone number. Ms. Tartaglia pulled a chair to the bedside.

For five hours, Ms. Tartaglia said, she sat beside the woman and held her hand "with intention," as she had been taught, enclosing it between her own. She had no sense of time passing until her shift was about to end.
"I told her I'd be leaving soon but that someone else was coming and she wouldn't be alone," Ms. Tartaglia said.

Five minutes later the woman died.

Ms. Tartaglia called the daughter, who arrived calm and efficient, ready for the logistics that follow death. "I can't deal with him," she told Ms. Tartaglia as the old man keened.

Ms. Tartaglia guided him into the kitchen and fixed tea. "You deal with yourself and your mom," she told the daughter. Ms. Tartaglia followed her heart and suggested a deathbed ritual. As she slipped from the apartment, the daughter was combing her mother's hair.
There would be more vigils for Ms. Tartaglia. One of the most memorable, she said, included the chance to hear Gwen Lee take her sister on whispered journeys to places Vivienne had most loved in the days when being a stewardess was glamorous.

With one of Vivienne's cats at her head and the other draped over her legs, Gwen would set the scene: An overnight flight to Africa. Glaring sun as the cabin doors open. Days between flights to romp at the beach with captain and crew.

While Gwen soothed her sister, Ms. Tartaglia lighted candles. She massaged Gwen's feet, helped choose the music for Vivienne's grand exit, Sarah Brightman singing "Time to Say Goodbye."

Ms. Tartaglia's shift ended three hours before Vivienne died. As she left, Ms. Tartaglia removed the oxygen mask that was intended to make Vivienne more comfortable but was chafing her face.

The Aftermath

A month to the day after Dominggus Pasalbessy died, Mr. Fersko-Weiss visited the three daughters who had cared for him. This was a formal opportunity for Pat Jolly, 62, Helen Santiago, 58, and Anita Pasalbessy, 55, to review their experience. After a death, Mr. Fersko-Weiss told them, "something said or not said, something you wish you had done differently, can stick inside you like a splinter."

The lights were low in Ms. Pasalbessy's Riverside Drive apartment, and Mr. Fersko-Weiss suggested a CD their father had loved, music from the South Moluccan islands, now part of Indonesia, the native land he had left as a teenager on a tramp steamer. The sisters sat for a brief meditation, letting the bustle of their day be replaced with images of their father, who died of lung cancer in the same bed where his wife had died a dozen years earlier.

All three described feeling peaceful and reverent at the time of his passing. It was like being "inside a cocoon," Ms. Pasalbessy said, "just me and my sisters, and Daddy, all together, in a place where nothing bad could touch us."

Only when pressed did each recall her particular moment of distress.

Ms. Pasalbessy agonized that she had compromised the independence of a man who "never wanted to be fussed over." Mr. Fersko-Weiss reminded her that eventually her father had stopped resisting his daughters' ministrations and had told them, "You're good girls, such good girls."

Ms. Jolly's concern was whether they had adequately medicated him. But her father's mantra had been "mind over matter." Perhaps, Mr. Fersko-Weiss suggested, he chose a measure of pain, rather than unawareness, as an assertion of strength.

Ms. Santiago had trouble forgetting the sisters' squabbling as they tried to dress him, three strong-willed women each with her own idea of how to get his arm through a pajama sleeve. "He had to have felt our tension, our nervousness," she said. "But that's when you guys walked in and everything fell into place."

Three doulas were with the family, in shifts, from dusk on April 9 until late afternoon on April 11. At 3:10 p.m., after a telltale rattling in his chest, Mr. Pasalbessy let out a breath. Then another, as two tears trickled down his cheek.

"It was like we could hear you talking to us," Ms. Jolly told Mr. Fersko-Weiss. " 'You'll see this. You'll hear a certain breathing pattern.' This dying was such a wonderful experience, if death can be that. And it's because there was no fear of the unknown."

ONLINE LINKS / Friends In Deed
« on: January 05, 2007, 01:06:31 PM »

Friends In Deed

At times like these, it's easy to feel frightened, powerless, overwhelmed and alone. That's why Friends In Deed is here. We're a crisis center where you can find the emotional and spiritual support to cope with these challenging life circumstances. Friends In Deed provides a safe space where you can reconnect to a sense of possibility. We can help you get your life back.

Reverend Purdy's Place / Reverend Purdy's Bio
« on: January 05, 2007, 11:08:28 AM »
The Reverend William Purdy envisioned the significance of a web-based TV channel that would become, which won the W3 Silver Prize from the International Academy of Visual Arts.  He developed a bereavement program to serve the public, meet the needs of one of the largest hospices in New York City, and reach the global community.  As VP of Provider Relations, he has had experience as a senior administrator. 

A popular speaker, Purdy is a graduate of Capital University in Columbus, Ohio (BA), and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (MDiv).  After ordination he was called to graduate study in systematic theology at the University of Munich under the guidance of Wolfhart Pannenberg and Karl Rahner, SJ.  Later at Union Theological Seminary in New York he earned the Master of Sacred Theology degree in bioethics.  Along the way William spent a year at the Blanton-Peale Institutes of Religion and Health as a Pastoral Psychotherapy Resident. 

In addition to other honors, he was awarded the Muhlenberg Medal for distinguished service.  The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia bestowed on him the degree Doctor of Divinity in 2007.

As a pastor, Will has served suburban congregations in Miami and Munich and shepherded parishes in the urban centers of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.  He has worked in various aspects of health care ministry and published articles in, among others, the Journal of Palliative Medicine, Parish Practice Notebook, The Hastings Center Report and its on-line Bioethics Forum, in Christianity & Crisis, Medical Ethics Advisor, the Journal of Pastoral Care, and the Handbook for Nursing Home Ethics Committees. He is a reviewer for the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management and the Journal of Urban Medicine. 

Travels have taken him to Mumbai to study grieving rituals of the Hindus and Parsis - or Zoroastrians, a trip that prompted his writing "Giving Grief a Ritual."  The article, as well as his Grieving Through series, is available on Grievingcenter. 

Dr. Purdy was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of New York State in 2008 and was the Treasurer.  He is an ordained pastor of the Metropolitan New York Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and chaplain to the 1st New York Continental Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.    

Loss - of a parent / A dream about dad
« on: November 20, 2006, 11:26:28 AM »
My dad died this summer. I rarely have dreams about him, but last night...

I went to vist him - and he was not home. I noted that many of the buildings in his yard were deteriorating - falling apart.
and I thought, rather cheaply built.
Then he came and said we should go fishing - but we would have to hurry because he needed to be back by 7pm so
he could speak at the knights of columbus meeting about the importance of family.
But then he got in his truck, boat trailer behind and left with someone I did not know.
I followed on foot - but the streets began to fill with water.
I began to swim behind them, and thought with all the other traffic, that it was a bit dangerous to be in open water like that.
But then it did not matter, I looked at my watch - it was 7pm - too late to go fishing.
I woke up.

Mr Freud?


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