Everplans

By: Lauren Thaler  |  Date: January 14th, 2013  |  Category: Death Defying Acts, News  |  Comments: 2 comments »

Everplans is a new resource for end-of-life planning, and I’m psyched to be working with the amazing Everplans team to create and organize editorial content that makes dealing with death not quite so difficult. Check out the site when you have a chance, especially if you know someone who could benefit from a less overwhelming approach to everything from estate planning to funeral costs. Below is a post I wrote for the Everplans blog last week.

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Remembering My Mother on My Birthday

When I was a kid, my mother would sneak into my bedroom the night before my birthday. She’d carefully set up little signs, banners and balloons all around my room so that the first thing I saw when I woke up would be her birthday wishes for me. I’d make my way into the bathroom and see that she’d replicated her festive display there, and in my closet, and in the kitchen. I’m pretty sure she loved my birthday more than her own. Read more…

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Excerpt For You

By: Lauren Thaler  |  Date: October 19th, 2011  |  Category: On Being Parentless  |  Comments: 3 comments »

Hi Blog Friends,

This post is an excerpt from something I’m working on. I’m not sure what final form it will take, but I hope you enjoy the sneak peek. I welcome any feedback.

Unfortunately, I’ll be posting more sporadically across the next several months because work and life are speeding up. I always love to hear from you, however, so feel free to reach out whenever you feel like it!

Until next time,

Lauren

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EXCERPT

It was a Saturday evening in late January, two weeks after my 28th birthday. Like the months leading up to this day, we were waiting.  There was, however, one distinct difference. After the 10 agonizing months that preceded this night – 10 months of never knowing what was around the corner no matter how many patient doctors we gripped on to – the night my mom died, I had a 10-page booklet with enumerated steps of what to expect. It was called “A Guide to Death and Dying,” and when the hospice nurse had placed it in my lap several days prior, I was dumbfounded.

After experiencing the duration of a disease marked by so many more questions than answers, I was shocked to learn that the medical community had enough material about the passage from life to death to write a book about it. But after I took a deep breath, opened to page 1 and started reading, I felt relief. Finally, more answers than questions. Finally, something to rely on.

This guide was the reason why, when the guttural noise my mom had been making for the last several days stopped for a full 5 seconds, I knew she would die within the next 20 minutes.

I don’t remember what I was wearing that night, and I don’t remember what the weather was like. I don’t remember how many people came into her bedroom for that final moment, and I don’t exactly remember the words I whispered into her ear as her breathing came to a stop. What I do remember is the strong and steady web of women’s arms and hands around my mom – My two hands holding her left hand. Debbie, with her left arm wrapped around my shoulders, and her right hand, palm up, supporting Mom’s left arm. Rhona, another one of Mom’s oldest friends, across from us, both arms outstretched, her hands gently resting on Mom’s right arm. And Aunt Judy, Mom’s only sister, hands resting softly at Mom’s right side.

When her breathing stopped, I dropped to the absolute depths of loneliness. There is no other way to describe it. It was the most terrifying, unadulterated feeling of loneliness, immediately causing my teeth to chatter and my body to shake. My parents were dead, and I was alone.

But I was only alone for a microsecond.  Because what I remember just as clearly as my teeth chattering and my body shaking is my best friend from college, standing behind me with her hands firmly placed on my shoulders. She was either trying to contain my shakes or join me, creating a conduit for them to leave my body. And then Rhona’s arms were around me too, and I grabbed Debbie and Aunt Judy, and we all held on to each other, still surrounding my mom and watching her just as intently as we had for the entirety of her illness. I watched her slip away, and, at the same time, I watched the women around me come into focus with more clarity than ever before.

END OF EXCERPT

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Think Different.

By: Lauren Thaler  |  Date: October 6th, 2011  |  Category: Cancer Chaos, Other Things That Make Me Tick  |  Comments: 6 comments »

I’m in New York for Advertising Week, which has a heavy slant toward all things digital, mobile and social, so you can imagine how the tenure of this weeklong conference changed after the news of Steve Jobs’ death. Every panelist, presenter and moderator had something to say about his legacy, the empire he built and the world he changed.

At a time like this I can’t help but think about my own experiences with the products that Steve Jobs brought into the world. When I was in eighth grade, I remember thinking my big, blue iMac was the coolest thing since slap bracelets had been invented. I remember buying my first iPod at Best Buy, taking the metro home and subsequently bursting into tears when I realized I had left my brand new iPod on the metro. I remember when I purchased my first iPhone and was totally intimidated by its revolutionary design — How could a smart phone only have one button?

Some have said that Jobs was the Thomas Edison of the 21st century, and I don’t believe they are too far off.

There is a ton of coverage right now about his company, career and accomplishments. Steve Jobs didn’t just raise the bar; he created an entirely new measuring stick for the future of tech innovation.

And even though we knew this day would come, as his health has been a constant concern for Wall Street and the millions of Apple fans everywhere, my jaw dropped when I read the New York Times alert on my iPhone yesterday. No matter how sick someone is, no matter how rare the disease is, death always feels like an unwarranted surprise.

And then the colossal significance of Jobs’ death hit me. Our world – not just the technical and digital layers of our lives, but our interpersonal orbits and the way we relate to each other – has lost Jobs, who fundamentally built those layers and orbits for pretty much the entirety of my almost 30 year old life. Our world will never reap the benefits of his dreams and brainstorms again. The person, who always knew what we wanted before we wanted it, is dead.

And across TV, online news sources and social networks, everyone is in agreement. I’m not saying anything new that hasn’t already been mentioned elsewhere – Facebook, Twitter, WSJ, CNN, The Today Show, NPR, the list goes on and on.

But what virtually no one is talking about, which is quite frankly starting to drive me nuts, is the fact that a rare form of pancreatic cancer is the reason why Steve Jobs will never invent a new product for us. Pancreatic cancer is the reason why the man who saw the future is no longer around to lead us to it.

And I think the responsibility not only falls on us to shine the spotlight on pancreatic cancer, but I hope people close to Steve Jobs – his family and medical team – will speak up too. For the last several years, I have understood and respected Jobs’ steadfast desire for privacy. When I ached to learn all I could learn about the disease two years ago when my mom was sick, I always felt the slight sting of being short changed after listening to perfunctory news updates about Jobs’ liver transplant, weight loss and suspicions about his deteriorating health.

Everyone knows what Steve Jobs built for us. In fact, most of us probably use at least a couple of his inventions every day, if not every hour. What I’d really like is for people to start talking about what took him away from us. That’s one thing we don’t know much about.

When my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a leading oncologist told me that she had a 50% chance of surviving one year and a 5% chance of living for five years. Steve Jobs had pancreatic cancer for eight years. For the 45,000 people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the United States this year, I bet they’d like to hear Steve Jobs’ story too.

 

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