Demystifying the End of Life: Sitting Down to Chat with Dr. Glen Miller

 

P1050650Dr. Glen Miller is a man with a passion for dying well. But he is also all about living well—and is clearly enjoying each new day he lives because he survived two heart attacks and one cardiac arrest. He is the author of a book Herald Press published this spring, Living Thoughtfully, Dying Well for which I served as editor.

I had to ask my sister, an R.N., the difference between the two. Maybe you’re fuzzy on that too. A heart attack can be mild or severe where blood flow slows down due to blockage, but in a cardiac arrest, your heart actually stops. Unless something happens to start it up again, you are dead dead. Luckily for Dr. Miller, someone gave him CPR and several years later, he not only wrote a book and got it published, but is on the lecture or book tour circuit to share ways all of us can realistically and lovingly prepare for what is inevitable.

P1050649P1050647 P1050646Earlier in May I not only had a chance to finally meet this author I had worked with by phone and e-mail for over a year, but heard him speak to a group of about 45 in Goshen, Indiana. Organized as a Lifelong Learning Institute class, he and Jep Hostetler (author of another Herald Press book, The Joy Factor) presented a wrap-up workshop on “Living Well, Dying Well,” the theme of their jointly written blog.

P1050644Jep Hostetler is also a magician who usually has some tricks up his sleeve, and a real love of life.

I also had the opportunity to sit down with Glen and his wife, Marilyn, in their lovely sun-drenched breakfast nook for a healthy breakfast of granola, yogurt, muffins and coffee.

P1050651Marilyn and Glen Miller in their home.

We talked families, chattered shop, the book, the blog, about opportunities for him to share with wider audiences than Mennonites about the content of his book, which is rich.

Living ThoughtfullyThe morning was rich and too soon I needed to head to my next activity, which was helping with my mother’s care in the rehab unit of the health care section of Greencroft Retirement Community. She will be 90 this summer and yes, the book is perfect for me and my siblings as we deal not only with her upper years, but our own aging. As someone has said referring to how much longer people are living, “Ninety is now the “old old.”

Mennonite pastor Ron Guengerich, in the documentary Embracing Aging, (produced by Mennonite Media) talks about how for many, the beginning of retirement seems like the “golden years” –many enjoy new freedoms from traditional jobs, and childcare obligations. It is frequently only as we reach the later 80s and 90s that things change, sometimes drastically, and life slows down, becomes more hemmed in. That feels like what is happening for my mother. But that’s ok. That’s life.

As Ira Byock says in that same documentary (which aired on ABC, NBC and Hallmark), “It’s time for we baby boomers to grow the rest of the way up. It turns out that we’re mortal. We have to face that and get over it.”

It seems that many people are getting the idea: a recent article in The Washington Post focused on “Death cafes” where people come together to open conversation and demystify the end of life.

Dr. Miller’s book, Living Thoughtfully, Dying Well gives stories, medical insight, worksheets, and insider viewpoints of a survivor who has spent his life working as a doctor and hospital administrator. I wanted to listen and learn from the wealth of experience he’s had.

What are the key issues you face for yourself or your family in thinking about aging and dying? Has your family had “that talk”? We’d love to have your comment.

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2MillerGlenIf you’d like to invite Dr. Miller to address your group, church, Sunday school class, retirement home (especially families of patients and staff), or civic group, he is planning a trip east in September (focused on Pa. and Va.). You can contact him through his blog: http://www.livingjoyfullydyingwell.com/appearances/

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Don’t take my word on the merits of this book, I’m prejudiced. But you might want to check these words from others:

Mark Derstine, a chaplain at a retirement center in Souderton PA has written a review in the Mennonite Health Journal. Scroll to page 16 to find the review where Mark says: “Best of all is when older and younger generations read and learn from this book together so that dying well becomes a source of renewed faith and love together in Christ.”

Ron Mathies, former Executive Secretary of MCC wrote in an email to Dr. Miller: “Your personal experience with heart disease, your medical knowledge, your faith and your over-arching gracious and positive perspective on life and death all come through powerfully, in a profoundly practical and deeply spiritual manner. Thank you!”

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To purchase copies of Living Thoughtfully, Dying Well: A Doctor Explains How to Make Death a Natural Part of Life, click here. (Note that “group study shelf” discounts of 25% off are available for any purchase of five or more.)

To purchase the DVD of the Embracing Aging documentary (with study guide and bonus content), check here.

Dr. Miller is also the author of Empowering the Patients: How to Reduce the Cost of Healthcare and Improve Its Quality (Dog Ear Publishing, 2009).

We’ve had a previous post on Mennobytes mentioning Glen: here.

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Melodie Davis is a managing editor for Herald Press and author of nine books. She keeps a personal blog at www.findingharmonyblog.com MelodieDavisBlogPhoto

Jobs, moving, sickness, four-month-old baby: STILL time to cook?

Extending Our Table to a New Apartment

Ben and Heather Kulp’s 6-week challenge to cook from
Extending the Table Cookbook.

We have written a great deal about transitions going on in our lives over the past few months, and how they affect our eating habits.  As we look forward to this next week, Heather moves into a new position at her current job and we are also moving across town. Returning to a small one bedroom apartment in a younger neighborhood after giving birth to our son no longer seemed to fit our lifestyle. We are moving to a larger apartment in a quieter neighborhood just outside of Boston. While we are excited to start living at a new address, moving is never something to which to look forward. The idea of packing everything in to bags, boxes, and cramming it in to a U-Haul and friend’s cars is enough to make anyone lose their appetite.

As we found during our Lenten journey through More With Less, times of stress, busy schedules, and transitions do not always lend themselves to the best of eating habits.  Even with our resources focused on the cost of the move, it still seems easier to order Thai food and pizza for the next few nights until everything is settled in the new apartment. Due to our Lenten discovery with cooking, we now know that this is a time when we can actually make ourselves less stressed and more fulfilled if we take a few moments to cook at the end of each day.

It never ceases to amaze us what we can find, forgotten, at the back of the fridge. Spare parts of ginger, onion, cabbage, kale, and veggie sausage were among the many forgotten tidbits that we found while searching through the fridge during the initial clean out before packing to move. Good friends were visiting from Chicago and asked if we could go out for Korean food while they were here. Conscious of budget and time, we instead opted to make the Spicy Cabbage Salad/Kimchi (p. 108) from Korea instead.  We enjoyed a night of reminiscing about our younger, slightly more care free times in Chicago before getting married and having a son.  The conversation drifted into the night, and the Spicy Cabbage Salad was definitely the catalyst for the nostalgia for our Chicago days.

The morning after our extended dinner conversation with friends, the coffee was brewing and we were still joking about stories from the night before.  Looking around the kitchen, there was only a smattering of materials with which to make breakfast for our guests.  Heather and I have always loved breakfast in the vein of yogurt and granola, so we looked to the Muesli recipe for breakfast (p. 154 in the previous version of Simply in Season).  It was a fulfilling breakfast for all of us, and the time it took the recipe to settle was another excuse to gather over coffee and conversation.

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Muesli or granola

We were both struck down (literally) with the flu last week, and the lingering effects of the sickness left us tired and not feeling highly motivated to cook.  As the night was foggy and cold in Boston, we both decided that a nice, warm stew was the answer to our question of dinner after our son had been put to bed.  We decided on the Groundnut Stew (p. 250), as it was a favorite of Ben’s when he was younger.  It’s a wonderful dish to add leftovers to, and we had many small bunches of spinach and kale that found their way in to the stew.  It was also rewarding to think that we were using the leftover food for cooking, as it would regrettably be thrown out during the move.  The warmth and time it took to cook the stew calmed both of us down after a long, harrowing day of childcare and work.GroundNutStew

Groundnut Stew

Over the next week we will be looking for more recipes to use as we move in to our new kitchen.  It will be great to use for our menu as we figure out why the yams were moved in a box with the towels, and where the closest grocery store is for our food needs.  Additionally, we will be able to grow a garden at our new apartment, so look for some fresh veggies to pop into our future recipes.

To buy the new edition of Extending the Table with many recipes illustrated with color photos, click here

MennoByte_photoBen Kulp is a cellist, Suzuki cello instructor, and entrepreneur. Heather Scheiwe Kulp is the Clinical Fellow at the Harvard Law School Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program. Along with a son born February 2014, they live in Boston, Massachusetts, and attend the Mennonite Congregation of Boston. Together, they enjoy hiking, listening to live music, and enjoying good food with friends.

Look for their posts each Wednesday thru June 11, under the special series category, Six Weeks with Extending the Table. Or sign up to receive all Mennobytes posts by subscription from the SUBSCRIBE button on the right side of the blog.

Your Sunday school quarterly: God’s kingdom at work

MennoBytes for May 26, 2014 by Sharon K. Williams, editor for Adult Bible Studies and Estudios Bíblicos para Adultos (EBA), our Spanish translation.Sharon Williams in her office

Sharon K. Williams with her dog, a companion as she works from her home.

“Who chooses the Scripture passages and themes?” “Why don’t we just use the Standard Lesson quarterly/commentary, which is THE Uniform Series curriculum, right?”

People often ask about the origins of our Adult Bible Study (ABS) and Estudios Bíblicos para Adultos.

Every ABS/EBA study of is a marvelous example of God’s kingdom at work. Every year Christian editors, writers, and theologians of various denominations and publishers spend a week together, praying and discerning the future of Bible study for churches around the world. We are the Committee on the Uniform Series (CUS), celebrating 142 years of helping all ages study God’s Word with a connection—a plan to study the same biblical text on the same day. CUS is one of the ministries of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.

WilliamsburgMCSSClass

Adults studying the Bible in a small congregation, Williamsburg Mennonite Church, Va.

My CUS colleagues are amazing women and men of faith. Our diversity (ethnic, theological, educational, life experiences) is as strong as our unity—our commitment to serve Christ and his Church, and to respect “the Bible as the record of the revelation of God in Christ, as the major source of understanding the meaning of the Christian faith, and as the most effective means of confronting persons with the great concerns of the Gospel.”[1] We represent 20 denominations and 30 independent publishers (one in Puerto Rico and one in Nigeria). Many other publishers use the CUS outlines; the Bible studies are written or translated in many languages.

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Large Presbyterian congregations like this one in Charlotte, North Carolina also use their own version of the Uniform Series Bible Study series.

The scope of our work will surprise you. Right now some of us are developing a six-year study of the Bible for 2022–28, choosing the themes and Scripture texts. Another group is developing age level goals for each lesson, working in the 2019–20 year. Everyone is drafting the writers’ outlines for 2018–19. I chair the Home Daily Bible Readings committee, which is working with our consultant James Horsch (former editor of ABS) on devotional readings for 2018­–19.

When the annual “Guide for Lesson Development” and “Home Daily Bible Readings” are released, each publisher creates its own Bible study materials, shaping the theological interpretation for our churches. The Standard Lesson curriculum is Standard Publishing’s version. ABS and EBA are two of a small group of Anabaptist curricula.

Emily Toews pic

Emily Toews, writer for the Summer 2015 Adult Bible Study — already written and in production!

ABS

The current summer 2014 Adult Bible Study guide.

It’s an awesome “God thing” when teachers and students discover that a lesson or quarter— conceived 10–15 years earlier—is “just what was needed.” God’s Word is alive and relevant! Join me in thanking God for the vision of the Committee on the Uniform Series—to unite Christians everywhere to grow in our faith through studying God’s Word together.

—Sharon K. Williams
Editor, Adult Bible Study and Estudios Bíblicos para Adultos
abseditor@mennomedia.org

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For more information and to order, head over to the MennoMedia store. ABSOnline and ABSReproducibles are found at www.MennoMedia.org/abs.​

[1] Handbook of Principles and Procedures, Committee on the Uniform Series, revised 2013, 17.