We’ve all gone through some grief. Daniel faces a very different kind because his father has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Daniel talks about his thoughts and feelings in this episode. 



Daniel Braunfeld - The Facing History High School. He is a high school history teacher and lives in Manhattan.

Charley’s Angels Page (support page for Daniel’s father, Charley)

Daniel’s Page

Robert A. Neimeyer - University of Memphis Psychology Dept. He is a professor in the Psychotherapy Research Area of the Department of Psychology, University of Memphis, where he also maintains an active clinical practice. Since completing his doctoral training at the University of Nebraska in 1982, he has conducted extensive research on the topics of death, grief, loss, and suicide intervention. Neimeyer has published 25 books, including Grief and bereavement in contemporary society: Bridging research and practice, Constructivist Psychotherapy, and The Art of Longing, a book of contemporary poetry. The author of nearly 400 articles and book chapters, he is currently working to advance a more adequate theory of grieving as a meaning-making process, both in his published work and through his frequent professional workshops for national and international audiences.


Biological Death

We consider an unusual understanding of death – a biological one. Prof. Tyler Volk describes organisms tuning their lifespan to their surroundings, the theory of “fly now die later,” and painting a personal understanding of death with help from biology.



Tyler Volk – New York University Biology Dept. He is biology professor and Environmental Studies Director and has been active in what might be called biosphere theory, or Gaia theory (with “biosphere” or “Gaia” defined as the system of atmosphere, ocean, soil, and life). Are there unifying scientific principles that govern diverse phenomena within the biosphere? Past work in Gaia theory has primarily focused on the state of the global environment that surrounds living things, for example, on the chemistry or temperature of atmosphere or ocean. He has been suggesting another approach. This involves close attention to how organisms fit into and in fact make the chemical cycles, the so-called biogeochemical cycles. A potential universal metric for these cycles is the “cycling ratio.” This is the ratio of an element’s flux into the photosynthesizers within a system (either the biosphere system or subsystems within) relative to the flux of that same element across the system’s boundary into the system. Volk explores how this metric could be useful for biosphere theory, as a way of comparing systems with life across different scales of space, essential nutrients, and evolutionary time.