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For generations past, death tended to come suddenly, unexpectedly, usually within a matter of days or weeks. Now, with the remarkable advances in medical treatment, having a loved one living with a terminal illness for months, even years, before dying is increasingly the norm. Drawing on extensive interviews, the presenters will describe a 5-stage model that will allow you to help families understand how the terminal illness is affecting them and work with them to ensure they successfully face the challenges ahead. We’ll explore the new family structures and dynamics that evolve as the loved one slowly slips away, how families can cope with setbacks and deterioration, and how they can make space for extended grief in lifestyles that are busier than those of earlier generations.
Joseph Nowinski, Ph.D., who’s been an associate adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut, is coauthor with Barbara Okun of Saying Goodbye: How Families Can Find Renewal through Loss.
Barbara Okun, Ph.D., is a professor of counseling psychology at Northeastern University, and a clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School. She’s maintained a clinical psychotherapy/family therapy practice for more than 30 years.