Graduate Program in Religion professor Kate Bowler in her January 26, 2018 article for the NY Times, “What to Say When you Meet the Angel of Death at a Party,” gives her insights on how to communicate appropriately to those suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Dr. Bowler has been living under the shadow of a diagnosis of stage IV colon cancer for two and half years, and is currently in “durable remission.” Bowler categorizes those who respond insensitively in one of three ways – minimizers, teachers or solvers. As alternative means of communication, she suggests acknowledgement, love and encouragement.
I would suggest that rather than an angel of death, Dr. Bowler is an angel of life. She models for us how to live life to the fullest despite current difficult circumstances. And in her vulnerability, she offers valuable wisdom that helps us live in sync with those suffering serious illnesses.
Kate Bowler is an assistant professor at Duke Divinity School, the author of Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel and Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved and the host of the forthcoming podcast “Everything Happens.”