144: Where Words Fail

144: Where Words Fail

Nov 5, 1999
One reason we tell stories is to explain things to ourselves that cannot, in the end, always be explained. When someone we're close to dies, we struggle for a way to get our minds around the fact of their absence. And often—the stories we invent aren't quite up to the job. In this week's show, people struggle to invent words adequate to cope with death.
  • Reporter Mark Arax spent three years investigating the murder of his father and yet he's still not at peace when he thinks of his dad's death. (His book is called In My Father's Name: A Family, a Town, a Murder.) This is how it goes sometimes. We create a story that tries to explain our lives, and it still leaves so much unanswered. (6 minutes) ChildrenDeathFathersMurderTeenagers

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  • Genevieve Jurgensen and her husband Laurent lost their two daughters, Elise and Mathilde, at the ages of 4 and 7. Actress Felicity Jones reads from Jurgensen's book, The Disappearance: A Memoir of Loss, in which Jurgensen tries to explain her children's lives and their deaths to a friend through a series of letters. (29 minutes) ChildrenDeathFamilyMarriageParenting

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  • A father and daughter (Adrian LeBlank and his daughter Adrian Le Blank) decide to write his obituary—together—not really thinking very seriously at first about the real meaning of what they were doing. (11 minutes)DeathFamilyFathersWriting

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  • Some of us have tragedy thrust upon us. Some of us allow ourselves a few moments to contemplate the worst that could happen. And some of us choose to think about the worst that can befall our families all the time. But is that good for you? Julie Snyder discusses this with her brother Tom, who plans obsessively for the deaths of each member of their family. (10 minutes) DeathFamilyParentssiblings

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