This past week, I had the great privilege of attending a lecture by Ken Ross, the son of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Ken is currently traveling and promoting the EKR Foundation by speaking about his mother and the legacy she has left all of us since her passing in 2004. Since the age of 17, when I read the book “On Death and Dying” in nursing school, Dr. Kubler-Ross had been a hero to me. Throughout my nursing career, I have reflected on her wise words often as I cared for patients who were suffering at the end of their lives.
I thought I knew a lot about her, but as it turns out I knew very little. Ken had the entire audience laughing and crying as he shared memories of Elisabeth — not just as a great physician and teacher, but as a human being. His stories illuminated the image of Elisabeth as a precocious child, a rebellious young woman, a wife, mother, and citizen of the world. One of the most important messages that Ken wanted us to come away with is that his mother was so much more than the author of “The 5 Stages of Grief”.
Most of us working in Hospice and Palliative Care are very familiar with Dr. Ross and her tireless work to enlighten our death-denying society. After hearing Ken’s words, I had to pause and wonder where we would all be at this moment without her. I would like to encourage all of you to visit the EKR Foundation website; http://www.ekrfoundation.org.
Thank you, Ken Ross, for sharing your memories with us. And thank you, Elisabeth. We love you and miss you.