Wrestling with the Angel
Literary Writings and Reflections on Death, Dying and Bereavement
Wrestling with the Angel addresses the human struggle to cope with death, dying, grief, and bereavement. The book includes essays, a one-act play, a short story, and poetry, including shape poems, rhyming, structured verse, and free verse. In the one-act play, an angel of death comes for a man who has lived an unexamined life and wants to explain why he is not prepared to leave. The short story offers a humorous look at a man who resists aging by continuing to view himself as the young man he once was. The diverse genres allow for different ways of exploring these issues, but all are intended to engage the reader's emotions as well as intellect. The writings incorporate reflections and quotations addressing common human issues related to our mortality and explore reactions to the loss of a loved one--whether expected, such as the death of an aging parent or someone with a terminal illness, or unexpected, such as accidental death. The final chapters examine how aging causes us to assess our lives and why preparing ourselves for death can enhance the quality of our life. This is a book with many more questions than answers, but the reader is invited to share in the process of finding answers. It is a book that requires the reader to be comfortable with ambiguity, because the reality it describes is often ambiguous--a reality that presents us with many choices but few certainties. Intended Audience: Scholars, hospice workers, funeral home directors, hospital chaplains, ministers, and others who work with bereavement issues; classes in death education and classes for mental health professionals in death and grief; general readers who have suffered the loss of a loved one.
Table of Contents
Foreword: Explains the genesis of this book, identifies previously published material and new material, and highlights issues that are addressed in each of the chapters.
Describes a father's grief journey that is initiated by the death of his son, raising many questions and an anger reflected in the poem.
Explores the theme of mortality, as in the one-act play where a man who is not prepared to die objects when an angel of death comes for him.
Describes how two parents grieve by inventing rituals and searching for other meaningful activities to help them heal from the unexpected death of their child.
Discusses a point in a father's grief journey where he has been influenced by the stories of others and begins to accept his child's death.
Examines responses to an expected death and explains how knowing that someone is dying does not diminish the sense of loss when the person dies.
Explains how an awareness of death does not have to lead to despair but can become a critical factor for enhancing one's quality of life.
Describes a bittersweet quality about aging - although people lose physical and mental abilities, they may use life experiences to gain a better perspective.
Discusses reasons why human beings need to consciously work on being prepared for their own death intellectually and spiritually and explores what such preparation involves.
Consists of comments from well-known people just before they died.