Life and Death: Affirmation and Meaning

10 Sessions

Given at OLLI at Brandeis

Study Group Leader: Rhoada Wald


The framework for this study group evolves from the theories, practice, and writings of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross drawing from her basic text, On Death and Dying. This study group will integrate psychology, studies of culture, literature and the arts. In the context of affirming life and the search for identity, we will examine life cycle theories, stages of death and dying and cross-cultural perspectives. Although the ways we individually explain and interpret life cycle issues, including death, are a natural outgrowth of this study, this is not a bereavement group.


Session 1

Attitudes about Life and Death

Introduction to the concept of Adult Life Stages

Session 2

Denial and Isolation

The Life Cycle—Issues of Identity and self- realization

Session 3

Film: Wild Strawberries

Introduction to Cross-cultural Perspectives

Additional sessions proceeded sequentially through the stages of life and death (Kubler-Ross) and continued study of various cultures and practices. Subsequent sessions also included the Hospice Movement, medical responses, and personal applications.


Albom, Mitch, Tuesdays with Morrie, 1997

Dershowitz, Alan, Shouting Fire: Civil Liberties in a Turbulent Age, 2002

Hendin David, Death as a Fact of Life, 1984

Humphry, David, Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying. 1996

Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth Death—The Final Stage of Growth, 1975

__________, Living With Death and Dying, 1981

Monette, Paul, Borrowed Time: An Aids Memoir, 1988

Nuland, Sherwin B., How We Die: Reflections On Life’s Final Chapter, 1994

Olsen Tillie, Tell Me A Riddle, 1960

Parry, Joan K. and Angela Shen Ryan, A Cross-Cultural Look At Death, Dying, and Religio,.1995

Roth, Philip, Patrimony: A True Story, 1991


Elisabeth Kubler-Ross speaks to patients


Wild Strawberries, Ingmar Bergman

Strong at the Broken Places: Turning Tragedy

into Triumph,

Tuesdays with Morrie