20 January 2014

15 - Elisabeth Kübler-Ross- Something Borrowed...

What do you want to be when you grow up?
“I believe that we are solely responsible for our choices, and we have to accept the
consequences of every deed, word, and thought throughout our lifetime.”
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
I have been enjoying reading an inspiring and very interesting book, The Wheel of Life, an autobiography by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.  Reading it has reminded me of the importance of making the right decisions and following your dreams, that your life is the sum of the choices you make.  Elisabeth was born in 1926 Switzerland, a time where it was very hard for a woman to make something of herself.  Despite her dramatic entrance into the world as the first born of surprise triplets, weighing only 2 pounds, she went on to not only marvel the doctors with her very survival but also became a world renowned psychiatrist; forever changing the way the world would view death. 
Circumstances early in her life led Elisabeth toward a strong interest in medicine; her desire to become a more caring and hands on doctor than she had so far experienced was a driving force within her.  However, she met with strong resistance from her father who had already decided that she would become his book keeper and not have the opportunity of attending further education.  She defied her father and left home at age 16 working a series of jobs and volunteering during World War II.  After the war she worked hard in rebuilding war-torn communities and even visiting a concentration camp in Poland; these experiences moulded her into the woman she would become.  Defying all the odds stacked against her she was successful in gaining a place into medical school in 1951. 
Her personal experiences and interests led her to go against the grain and the strict medical world and study terminal illness, a taboo topic.  The first of many books, her famous ground breaking book On Death and Dying, was published in 1969. Her book outlined the five stages that most dying patients experience: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  Identifying these stages was revolutionary at the time; in effect Elisabeth Kübler-Ross helped change how the medical community cared for the terminally ill.  Her work has since become widely accepted and was crucial to the development of the hospice system, which offers palliative care and psychological support to the terminally ill.  She helped turn thanatology, the study of physical, psychological and social problems associated with dying into an accepted medical discipline.  Elisabeth died in 2004 at home surrounded by her family and friends.  In 2007 Elisabeth was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for her work. http://www.biography.com/people/elisabeth-kubler-ross-262762?page=1
It is fascinating to discover how one person has made such a difference to the world.  I enjoy biographies where the individual manages to endure through personal adversity, rising above the doubters to follow their own life path.
It really makes me think 'What am I going to do when I grow up?


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