Reflections on Mortality

Insights into Meaningful Living

By: Robert B. Brooks, PhD & B. Glenn Wilkerson, DMin


About Reflections on Mortality

Many of us fill our lives with so much work, entertainment, and fluff that we fail to consider the reality that our personal journeys on earth must someday come to an end.

This collection of essays and articles points out that human existence is a fragile, terminal gift. Accepting that encourages us to live dynamic, purposeful lives.

Combining insights from thought leaders in the fields of medicine, mental health, and religion, as well as hospice directors, funeral directors, and those who have faced life-threatening situations, the writers and editors of this book share their honest, open views about death, dying, and the possibilities of an afterlife.

The Authors

Robert B. Brooks, PhD, is the former director of the Department of Psychology at McLean Hospital and is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School (part-time). He has lectured nationally and internationally and written extensively abut different psychological themes, especially resilience across the lifespan.

Learn more about Dr. Brooks by visiting his website.


B. Glenn Wilkerson, DMin, is recognized as one of the world’s foremost authorities in elevating social/emotional health and creating positive self-concepts in children. He is the author of the nationally acclaimed ARK (Adults Relating to Kids) Program, incorporating best practices in parenting and teaching.


“Confronting our mortality is hard but necessary if we are to take our lives seriously. Brooks and Wilkerson have performed a noble service by compiling this book in which people of very different backgrounds offer their perspectives, so that everyone should find much that is helpful in it.” ~ Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People

“This book is a set of essays on the fact of our mortality and the issues that death raises for every person. Written by various professionals in the fields of medicine, healthcare and religion, the reflections offer highly contrasting yet interesting views on the meaning of the human person and the role of our mind and heart, of our intellect and emotion, in meeting our finitude. It allows us to glimpse real joy and meaning in life by consciously facing death. As a religious believer, I found the book helpful in setting out so many issues surrounding our death and dying.” ~ His Eminence, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

“You know a book represents a true publishing event when you find yourself marveling at its scope as well as absorbing its personal power, poignancy, practicality, and depth. This is what I experienced in being moved and taught by the chapters in Reflections in Mortality: Insights into Meaningful Living. As I moved through each subsequent chapter written by a pilot, psychologist, social worker, minister, hospice worker, funeral director or other person intimately connected with a sense of mortality and its impact on how we might live our lives more fully, I found myself asking, Why wasn’t a book of this scope and impact available until now? Well, now Reflections in Mortality fills that gap and then some. It is a true gift to all of us—including professionals who seek not simply knowledge but true wisdom on the topic.”~ Robert J. Wicks, Psy.D., author of Perspective: The Calm within the Storm; Bounce: Living the Resilient Life



Robert B. Brooks, PhD


PART I: Perspectives of Health Care Professionals

To Face One’s Own Mortality: What We Can Learn from Connecting the Dots Backward
A Psychologist’s Perspective on Mortality
Robert B. Brooks, PhD

“We’re Not Treating the Measles Here”
A Neurosurgeon’s Perspective n Mortality
Duke S. Samson, MD

On Dealing with Mortality
A Hospice Director’s Perspective on Mortality

Jeanette Coffield, BBA

A Lasting Legacy: An Approach to End-of-Life Care
A Second Hospice Director’s Perspective on Mortality

John D. Foster, MS, CPM

Even Funeral Directors Die
A Funeral Director’s Perspective on Mortality

Jeff Staab, CLCC

Finding Balance While Helping Others Cope with Grief and Loss 
A Director of Pediatric Oncology Social
Work’s Perspective on Mortality

Frances L. Greeson, MSSW, LCSW


PART II: Personal Perspectives

The Biology Exhibit 
A Dying College Professor’s Perspective on Mortality

Billy Moore, BA

Brushes with Death
A Three-Time Cancer Survivor’s Perspective on Mortality

Todd A. Herzog, BA, BComm, CPA

Remembering Friends and Serving Our Country
An Army Helicopter Pilot’s Perspective on Mortality

Wesley Hunt, MBA, MPA, MILR

No Good-Byes: Losing a Daughter and Learning How to Live Again
A Bereaved Mother’s Perspective on Mortality

Terri DeMontrond, LLC


Faith (and Nonfaith) Perspectives 

Humble Reflections on Grief
An Agnostic Christian’s Perspective on Mortality

James W. Stovall, DMin

Anxiety and Death
A Buddhist’s Perspective on Mortality

Paul Foxman, PhD

The Graves’s a Fine and Private Place
A Philosopher’s Perspective on Mortality

David V. Mason, DMin

Life, Death, and the Life After
A Muslim’s Perspective on Mortality
M. Javed Aslam MD, FRCP(C)

Finding Comfort in My Loss of Faith
A Humanist/Atheist’s Perspective on Mortality

Bracha Y. Etengoff, JD

Freed from the Fear of Death
A Hindu Perspective on Mortality

Ramesh Patel, MD

From Death into Life
A Catholic Perspective on Mortality

Leon F. Strieder, SLD

The Immortality of Name and Work
A Jew’s Perspective on Mortality

Rabbi Rifat Sonsino, PhD

Death Teaches Us How to Live
A Christian’s Perspective on Mortality

B. Glenn Wilkerson, DMin



B. Glenn Wilkerson, DMin 






Pictured Above: Rabbi Rifat Sonsino (L) and Dana and James (R)