More from and about
Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross
(biographical info at bottom of page)


It's only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time
on earth - and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will
then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.


We all have to go through the tumbler a few times before we can emerge as a crystal.

I say to people who care for people who are dying, if you really love that person and want to help them, be with them when their end comes close.  Sit with them--you don't even have to talk.  You don't have to do anything but really be there with them.
We need to teach the next generation of children from day one that they are responsible for their lives. Humankind's greatest gift, also its greatest curse, is that we have free choice.  We can make our choices built from love or from fear.
I have never met a person whose greatest need was anything other than real, unconditional love.  You can find it in a simple act of kindness toward someone who needs help.  There is no mistaking love. You feel it in your heart.  It is the common fiber of life, the flame that heals our soul, energizes our spirit and supplies passion to our lives.  It is our connection to God and to each other.

To love means not to impose your own powers on your fellow people but offer them your help.   And if they refuse it, to be proud that they can do it on their own strength.

You will not grow if you sit in a beautiful flower garden, but you will grow if you are sick, if you are in pain, if you experience losses, and if you do not put your head in the sand, but take the pain as a gift to you with a very, very specific purpose.


It is not the end of the physical body that should worry us.  Rather, our concern
must be to live while we're alive - to release our inner selves from the spiritual
death that comes with living behind a facade designed to conform to external
definitions of who and what we are.


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The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love,
which includes not only others but ourselves as well. 


The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known
defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found
their way out of the depths.  These persons have an appreciation, a
sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassions,
gentleness, and a deep loving concern.  Beautiful people do not just happen.


Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that
everything in life has purpose.  There are no mistakes, no
coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.

Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross was born in Switzerland in 1926.  She was part of a package deal--a triplet (and a two-pounder at that).  That she survived the birth (as did her two sisters, another two-pounder and a more robust six-pounder) is something of a miracle.  As she explains, her early childhood was filled with other more memorable experiences around death as well, including a long battle with pneumonia and deathbed scenes of neighbors in her small town.

In the aftermath of World War II, she was a volunteer in IVSP, International Voluntary Service for Peace.  She spent time in Poland and then Germany, aiding survivors of the concentration camps, as well as the defeated Germans, to rebuild their lives.  She returned to Switzerland and went to medical school, eventually marrying an American student studying there.

After practicing as a small town family doctor, she came to the U.S. in the 1950s.  Her plans to serve a residency in pediatrics were changed to psychiatry (because they didn't want someone who was pregnant).  In Denver, after residency, she was asked to lecture to medical students.  She chose a topic that was out of the ordinary, but something she felt at home with--death and dying.

In 1965, in Chicago, she continued her work in this area.  At the urging of some theology students she began a weekly seminar with dying patients, health professions students, and (eventually) their more skeptical teachers.  This experience led to the publication, in 1969, of her book, On Death and Dying.  It is in this book that the "stages" of dying are discussed.

She passed away on August 24, 2004.


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