On Life and Living
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D., is the woman who has transformed the way the world thinks about death and dying. Beginning with the groundbreaking publication of the classic psychological study On Death and Dying and continuing through her many books and her years working with terminally ill children, AIDS patients, and the elderly, Kübler-Ross has brought comfort and understanding to millions coping with their own deaths or the deaths of loved ones. Now, at age seventy-one facing her own death, this world-renowned healer tells the story of her extraordinary life. Having taught the world how to die well, she now offers a lesson on how to live well. Her story is an adventure of the heart -- powerful, controversial, inspirational -- a fitting legacy of a powerful life.
In 1969's On Death and Dying, psychiatrist Kubler-Ross was the first to sytematically ask dying patients what it was like to be terminally ill, and to identify what came to be known worldwide as "near-death experiences." Until then, Kubler-Ross contends, the medical establishment had not only ignored the subject of death, but had actively avoided it due to its implication of medical failure. Now, after ten books that empathetically tracked our culture's ways of dealing with sickness, death and spirituality, Kubler-Ross offers her own story in what she says will be her final book. The firstborn of triplet girls, she describes a childhood surrounded by mountains, wildflowers and a loving family in Switzerland. She shares stories of her marriage and motherhood, her deep desire to help others and to restore humanity to medicine, her explorations of out-of-body experiences and encounters with spirit guides, and the extreme resistance to her never-realized plan of caring for AIDS babies on her Virginia farm. Kubler-Ross seems to have lived several lifetimes in one, but a series of strokes has slowed her down to the point of declaring, "Death is a wonderful and positive experience, but the process of dying, when it is prolonged like mine, is a nightmare." She says the one question that everyone must answer at the end of life is, "What have you done to help?" Having faced universal questions of life and death, having offered comfort to countless others, Kubler-Ross now awaits--to use her own metaphor--her transformation from cocoon to butterfly.