Is Dignity Therapy For You?

Image by J. Paxon Reyes via Flickr

I heard about this on the radio the other day. I caught the tail end of the story – this woman was talking about always carrying around a 50 page document created by her late mother, and the document was basically a memoir of sorts, spoken by her mother and recorded by a ‘dignity therapist.’ This gift from her mother must be very special if she always keeps it by her side (because really, how much does a 50 page document weigh??).

For those of us who have lost loved ones, being able to hold on to their memory is important and having something tangible like a recording, a video, a journal or an ethical will helps the memories last longer. Some people may not want a therapist knowing all their secrets but it could be curative…and revealing. Harvey Chochinov, a psychiatrist at the University of Manitoba in Canada and the person who created dignity therapy, says “When you are standing at death’s door and you have a chance to say something to someone, I absolutely think that proximity to death is going to influence the words that come out of your mouth.”

So basically people facing imminent death will probably say things they would have never said while they were alive. And depending on what they disclose, it could be a good thing or a bad thing. Just ask Jackie Kennedy’s grandkids. But don’t wait – if you have words of wisdom to share with family or close friends do it now. Write it down, record it, film it, paint it on a large canvas, whatever works. Just do it now because tomorrow may be too late.

What will you share before you leave?

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