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    Wednesday, December 22, 2004

    Death Takes No Holiday: Recent research says that people die every day, even at Christmas. Of course people die on Christmas. The researchers set out to see if it was true that people could postpone death for an important event. Anecdotes abound about this phenomenon. I myself have one. I man went to high school with a man who developed metastatic malignant melanoma in his early thirties. He was critically ill and drifting in and out of consciousness during the final days of his wife's pregnancy. He died the day his daughter was born, just after he held her for the first time. Everyone says he held on until her birth. And maybe he did. I'm sure the birth of his daughter was a considerably more important event for him than Christmas. As a critic of the research says:

    'This paper was painful for me to read,' Ferrell said. 'They asked the wrong questions and got the wrong answers. People don't wait around for Thanksgiving; Christmas really isn't a big deal.

    'I've been in this field for 27 years and I can tell you that people postpone death ... for something important: the birth of a grandchild, a bar mitzvah, a graduation, a baptism. I can give you thousands and thousands of examples of people who were waiting for redemption, forgiveness, mending relationships.'

    It's true, the study only looked at deaths around the holidays. It would be very difficult to do a study looking at death rates around individually important events. But the author does have a word of advice:

    'But what people have to understand is that there are important messages here: One is, if you have a loved one who is dying ... and if a major event is approaching, celebrate it now. Don't wait.'

    Did I mention that my classmate's wife convinced her obstetrician to do an elective Cesarean section before she started labor, so she could be sure her husband saw their daughter?

    NOTE: Typed too fast this AM minutes before having to leave for the office. Have since corrected post so it's half-way intelligible.

    posted by Sydney on 12/22/2004 08:49:00 AM 0 comments


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