End-of-Life, Social Work/Helping Profession/Mental Health

Wisdom to be Gained from ‘Morrie: In His Own Words…’

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

I am reading yet another wonderful book. Morrie Schwartz sheds some wisdom on what it is like to be diagnosed with an incurable degenerative disease, (ALS) amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Imagine a disease that robs you of use of your arms, legs, hands, swallowing, eating, all but breathing until the end….. http://www.alsa.org/?gclid=CIfRys258LMCFQyk4AoduikA2Q your muscles stop working.

If you ever read the book, “Tuesdays with Morrie” (it is the same Morrie).

This small book makes you think, helps you understand to a point what it is like to be diagnosed with ALS, to know that you are dying in a limited timeframe and what you learn during the process.

It is 127 pages in length, but packs a lot of information-I took over 6 pages of notes!

Some of the quotes worth remembering or writing down, “Learn how to live and you will know how to die; learn how to die and you will know how to live.”

“Grieve and mourn for yourself not once or twice, but again and again.”

“Life is a process of opening oneself lovingly to other people, to the world, ultimately, to something larger than ourselves.”

“Be non-judgemental, see yourself as a part of a community and open yourself to it.”

“Grieving, mourning, crying are all natural emotions. They come easily and readily if not stopped by cultural prohibitions, expectations and distortions.”

“Grieving is an important part of living because loss is part of life. The older you get, the more losses you sustain.”

“Accept the past as past, no denying or discarding…..Reminisce, but do not live in it. Learn from it, but do not punish yourself.”

“Many of us are hard on ourselves for what we did not accomplish or what we should have done. Get rid of guilt and negative feelings.”

I feel like I could go on and on and I could, but I think you get the gist of what the book was about.

Morrie discusses more in the book about goals, feel and be useful, find happiness in your life, know who you are and to not ‘sleepwalk through life, but be passionately involved.”

That is so important. We are here for a reason. What do you want from life? What are your ambitions? What motivates you? What do you care about? Remember we are each unique individuals. Focus on needs over wants. Pay attention to physical, emotional, social and spiritual states of being. Be compassionate, loving, open-hearted and aware.

Towards the end of the book he talks about death. Dying is both a private and community act. The self, family and friends are all involved and part of the process.

I will part with his message of, “Behave with courage, dignity, generosity, humor, love, open heartedness, patience and self-respect.”

I find that many books if you look further than the basic message have much to offer both personally and professionally. Books can be a wonderful research tool and educational at the same time it is entertaining. One just has to look for the deeper message.



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