The life story of the author of "on death and dying"
Author derek gill wrote in the introduction to this 1980 book, "she had read my mind and had known before my asking that i wanted to write her life story. i have worked very closely with elisabeth and have traveled many thousands of miles in order to record her story. yet, as her biographer, i'm obliged to confess that i still do not really know her. oh, i acknowledge her genius as a physician and communicator. i can give testimony to her selflessness and generosity. i've seen her as a beautiful soul, childlike in her simplicity. yet she remains for me an incredibly complex character, a woman of fascinating mystery." (pg. xiii) he notes, "elisabeth's laboratory thus became in effect a confessional box... because she empathized, because she listened, because she did not appear too wise or offer cliche answers, elisabeth serendipitiously became a psychologist therapist. she simply knew that the people who came to see her requiring physical care were often in deep emotional, mental and spiritual need, and that sometimes she could help." (pg. 99) he states, "she retorted that it was precisely because no one in medical schools ever talked about death that it was so important to air the subject. no one mentioned it because the medical profession was, she suspected, collectively afraid of death---probably more so than the public... she could help the students face their own fears of death... above all, she could try to convince students that a dying person is still a human being in need of understanding and special care." (pg. 257-258) she argued in a lecture to medical students, "the full measure of their worth as physicians would be gauged not only by their scientific skills, but by their capacity for compassion." (pg. 263) he recounts, "as time went on, she was to recognize and record five basic stages in the process of dying, which did not necessarily follow each other consecutively and often overlapped: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance... the final stage, the acceptance of death, brought with it a sense of fulfillment and of peace." (pg. 293) at the close of the book, he records that "she spoke to me about her psychic and mystical experiences. since that night she has spoken about these experiences from many public platforms... in doing so she has split the camp of her huge following like a lightning bolt. in shifting from the language of science to the language of mysticism, elizabeth has lost the company of a number of her peers." (pg. 319) kubler-ross explains in her own epilogue to the book, "i have had many wonderful mystical experiences, from cosmic consciousness to the awareness and ability to be in touch with my own guides... i have never been able to meditate regularly... i have never had a guru... yet despite all this, i have had, very possibly, every mystical experience that human beings are capable of having... i have been able to see the light that my patients see in their near-death experiences, and i have been surrounded by that incredible unconditional love that all of us experience when we make the transition called death." (pg. 334) this is a fascinating and insightful book, that will interest anyone wanting to know more about the woman and her ideas.