Category Archives: Dr. Lani Leary’s Blog

Lani Leary on Portland’s AM Northwest morning show

I had the exciting opportunity to appear on Portland, Oregon’s AM Northwest TV show yesterday to discuss my new book and the three things we can do for those in our life that are dying. You can see my appearance by clicking here to visit AM Northwest’s website.

My new book “No One Has to Die Alone” is now available

My new book No One Has To Die Alone is now available! You can find it online at Beyond WordsPowell’s BooksBarnes & Noble or You can also read the first chapter for free on my website.

No One Has to Die Alone by Dr. Lani Leary

The experience of caring for a loved one through terminal illness and eventual loss can be incredibly isolating and emotionally overwhelming. No One Has To Die Alone offers accessible insights, practical tools, and personal stories to provide a sense of community, profound relief, and deep meaning for both caregiver and patient through illness, death, and bereavement.

The first half of No One Has To Die Alone focuses on caregiving, while the second half focuses on the grieving process, including an entire chapter on how to compassionately support the unique needs of children through the grieving process. Each chapter is written to stand alone, allowing readers to reference any chapter and apply that information to their unique challenge.

See what others are saying on my book reviews page.

Moments of healing from moments of peace

I was privileged to be with a woman dying of leukemia, whose bone marrow transplant was unsuccessful. More painful than the weeks in the isolation unit, losing her hair, and the transplant itself was her desperate struggle to feel loved by her broken family. Throughout her short life she had been abandoned by an alcoholic mother, abused by an angry father, and humiliated by grandparents. In her last months, knowing that the transplant was unsuccessful and the leukemia kept feeding on her body, she fought her hardest battle to make peace with her family and ask for what she needed. Continue reading

Death does not just happen to you

Everyone carries his or her own weight of grief. We each have a different story, perhaps with a different context. But grief is universal. We all experience the death of a family member. We all lose a loved one. Death does not visit you alone. It is helpful and comforting to remember that we are not singled out. We are not victims. This death is not a personal punishment against you. Death is universal. It did not happen just to you. Continue reading

The key to resolving grief

The key to resolving grief is the feeling of acceptance that comes through validation. To resolve means to settle, to work out, or to find meaning. It does not mean to erase, or to end. Grief does not end, but grief is transformed. Grief can soften. It can be accepted. It can take on another shape, rather than taking over a person’s life. One can carry grief differently after working through grief and finding resolution. But grief does not end. Continue reading

How to Help a Child Understand Death

  • Listen Actively to learn what the child does and does not understand about death; what vocabulary, sequences, and concepts they is she able to use in questions or descriptions of the events?
  • Ask your child direct, simple questions that focus on full understanding of the event and the ramifications.
  • Respond to what they do and do not understand.
  • Use everyday living experiences and “teaching moments” to discuss the reality that has happened.
  • Answer questions when the child asks. Answer simply and honestly rather than protecting the child from a “harsh reality” and evade the truth. Answer the same questions repeatedly if asked, with patience; your child is processing and weaving together complex concepts that require repetition and context.
  • Temper and adjust your response and answers to reflect the child’s age, experience, maturity, and capacity for emotion and facts.
  • Answer the question that is asked; do not overwhelm with detail, but ask what she heard and now understands.
  • Give the child time alone to reflect.
  • Provide opportunities and experiences for the child to show you what he or she understands or is confused about reglarding illness, death, and dying.  Activities including movies, art, music, writing, or play acting can all provide feedback about how the child is processing information. 

Children need help understanding illness, dying, and death

Children need help understanding illness, dying, and death. Forty percent of all children will experience at least one traumatic event before they become adults. Death, loss, and trauma are common experiences for children, but the challenge is usually not addressed until after the crisis has occurred. Let’s not give children a crash course in grief! The opportunities for growth embedded within any crises are too important to leave as after-thoughts. The ramifications to our children of not having the skills or support to deal with personal change of this magnitude are dangerous. As adults and caregivers, we need to discuss the inevitability of loss, and teach coping skills before they are needed, and during a time that is not so emotionally volatile. Children need help if they are to navigate and successfully adjust to circumstances they do not understand and for which they have not developed skills. Continue reading

Participate with your presence

Most people’s lives are a chain of small acts like eating, walking, working, laughing. What might happen, and how might our lives be different, if we carried out those small acts as if it was the only and last thing we might do in our life? What if every move we made and act we carried out was to find the sacred in all the mundane parts of life? What if we lived our life as though the sacred in all life mattered? Continue reading

I can find meaning in loss

To say that we must confront our grief may be too harsh. Perhaps what is more helpful is to engage or “enter into” a deeper appreciation of what is; to be so courageous as to mingle with our grief so as to find the texture and nuance of it. The closer we examine it, the more intimate it becomes; the more of our own it is, and the less ambiguous and vague. We can hold our grief; rather than our grief taking hold of us.  We can know it so that it can inform us of what is most precious to us. Continue reading