Much of the story of Paul Kalanithi‘s death is known, chronicled beautifully in the memoir When Breath Becomes Air and in this Emmy-nominated Stanford Medicine video. But each time I watch his wife, Lucy, speak, I’m reminded how much we can all learn from this young couple’s approach to Paul’s jarring diagnosis.
Many of the discussions we have about death explore human emotions ranging from fear to sadness. But Kalanithi also found ways to derive joy amid the grief and sleepless nights. ‘We learned to accept both,’ she said. ‘When Paul told me, ‘It will be okay,’ it didn’t mean we could cure his illness.’
Now Lucy experiences joy leaving flowers on Paul’s grave while their daughter runs around on the grass. She builds bonfires on the beach and practices mindful meditation. ‘I tell my daughter, Cady, that engaging in a full range of experience, both love and loss, is what we’re suppose to do. Being human doesn’t happen despite suffering, it happens within it.’
Indeed. If you enjoy hearing from Lucy as I do, check back soon — we’ll be sure to feature the video from Lucy’s talk when it is released by TEDMED in coming months.
Previously: On the first day of Medicine X, talking disparities, adversity and hope, When Breath Becomes Air: A conversation with Lucy Kalanithi, Video about surgeon-author Paul Kalanithi earns Emmy nod and TEDMED, in pictures
Image from TEDMED