Manual and Memoir – A Couple's Journey through Aging and Illness

My late husband Gene Cohen is known as one of the founders of both geriatric psychiatry and the creative aging movement. He was always talking, writing, and educating about brain plasticity and the changes that took place as we age into our wisdom and creative potential. In the years since he passed away in 2009, it is as if the awakening he predicted for all of us baby boomers has just exploded into consciousness. I have watched it happen gradually and then pick up speed over just this past number of years.

 

At first, as a widow at 59—fairly young as widows go—I felt isolated and alone in my experience, as if I were now an outsider to life. It was so hard to bring up the topic of my loss, to be present with people as I was wrapped in my own blanket of grief. It was a real conversation stopper. Suddenly now, we read about aging everywhere – how to exercise our aging brains with games or eat the right foods and think the right thoughts for longevity and brain fitness, or how aging opens us to the existential quest for meaning in both life and death. A multitude of voices now speak (and write) not only on aging, but on illness, grief, death and dying. These conversations are not only taking place in books but also in blogs, personal essays, opinion pieces on end-of-life issues and quality-of-life issues, and in media stories about the many new ways that people are finding to talk about their experience. From potluck dinners to book clubs, more people are daring to broach the subject in a conscious and more thoughtful way than ever has been possible before.

 

With the release of Sky Above Clouds, the book that Gene and I envisioned together and collaborated on right up to his death, I hope this blog will serve as an extension of the conversation we began there. Please join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram, to share from your own experiences and observations. I'm also very excited to introduce Sky Above Clouds and look forward to sharing what I learn from everyone and everything along the way.

 

- Wendy Miller

Managing the time warp of loss: Why do they want to marry the widow off

How does a widow see her future? What can a widow see in the present? My late husband Gene D. Cohen is considered a founding father of Geriatric Psychiatry and the grandpappy of the field of Creativity and Aging. With his son and our daughter, I went to Chicago to receive his Hall of Fame Award, only four months after his passing. Being married to someone famous, who passes away just five weeks into his 65th year, after devoting his entire career to the understanding and creative potential of people 65 and older, is a loss not only to those of us who are his family, but to the many colleagues and protégés in the field. It seems to comfort friends to see me as OK; they say I am intelligent, b

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