“There is no closure. There’s an opening. —”
Accompanying someone on the journey toward death is “an incredible luxury,” said Nancy H. Cobb, speaking at a lecture sponsored by the Program for Humanities in Medicine in January. “It’s an incredible gift — a kind of gestation period before someone dies. It’s a holy and spiritual time.” Cobb, an actress and writer, wrote In Lieu of Flowers: A Conversation for the Living after watching her mother die at The Connecticut Hospice in 1996. Cobb’s mother had initially asked her daughter to help her end her life but forgot that request as her Alzheimer’s progressed. Cobb is grateful: watching her mother die gradually “granted me an extraordinary and tender farewell, and my mother a final measure of grace.” Cobb said that enduring the death of a loved one is a maturing experience and that seeking closure is misguided. “There’s no closure. There’s an opening, and we’re cracked open.” She said “unexpressed grief” creates barriers between doctors and patients and urged members of the audience to share their “seminal stories” of witnessing death. “We’re all dying to talk,” she said.