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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Petty

APiD Ep. 056 | Ignore at Your Own Risk

How Your Relationship with Death Affects Your Quality of Life, with Dr. Frederic Tate

Check out the full transcript here.


What is your relationship with Death?

It may seem like an odd question, but your answer to it has everything to do with your quality of life.

My guest on this episode shares actionable insight into this relationship so that we can optimize our quality of life.

Introducing Dr. Frederic Tate

Dr. Frederic Tate is a fascinating human with a perspective on Life and Death forged in the crucible of end-of-life care. A trusted friend connected us, so I knew Frederic was someone I should get to know. And I took an immediate shine to him from afar when I learned that he grew up in the Appalachian Mountains like I did. It's been a pleasure getting to know him, and it's a pleasure to share his wisdom with you today.

Frederic's wisdom is backed by tons of credibility. He holds undergraduate degrees in art and psychology, completed his doctorate at Southern Illinois University, and holds a clinical affiliation in art therapy. Frederic published articles on the topic of death and dying and was fortunate to study under the tutelage of internationally-renowned psychiatrist and authority on death and dying, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

He was also one of the founders of Jack’s House, the first hospice specifically for gay men with HIV/AIDS on the East coast.

For 36 years, Frederic worked at Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg, VA--established in colonial times as the nation's first public hospital. At Eastern State, he worked with inpatient, adult males with serious mental illness. In addition, he has served as adjunct faculty at The College of William and Mary and Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, lecturing on hospice and palliative care.

Today, Frederic is happily retired. He volunteers in hospice and at a local food pantry. He's an avid biker, hiker, kayaker, and international traveler. When he's not out in nature, he can be found at home reading, painting, or slaughtering the classics on his baby grand piano.

Some Highlights from This Conversation

  • The surprising connection between the denial of Death and violence and strife in our culture

  • The importance of tending to our “inner work,” especially our relationship with Death and dying

  • The importance of symbols of Death and the individual and cultural cost of their absence

  • Why Halloween and The Day of the Dead are among the most important holidays

  • How “tasks of grieving” have replaced the 5 Stages of Grief that many of us are familiar with

  • One big area in which our “civilized” culture needs to become less civilized

  • How to upgrade your relationship with Death

  • And more…

Making It Matter in Your Life

Let's circle back to the question we started this episode with, but now equipped with the benefit of the conversation you just heard:

"What is your relationship with Death?"

I hope by now you're more persuaded that we all, in fact, have a relationship with Death--even if until now it's been largely an unconscious or subconscious one. And I hope, too, that you're more persuaded of the immense practical importance of understanding your personal relationship with Death and evolving it wherever it's inadequate or working against you.

If you're not persuaded yet, what's missing? What reservations or doubts need resolution?

If you are persuaded, at least sufficiently so, then what's a next step for you in evolving your relationship with Death so that it can improve your quality of life even more? Maybe, as Frederic suggested, it's time to read more on the topic. Maybe it's time to introduce concrete symbols of Death into your Life. Maybe Halloween takes on a different significance for you this year.

Whatever you decide your next step is, don't delay. Take even more responsibility for your quality of life, and take that step today.

Remember: You ARE going to die. But you’re not dead yet. So get after it!

I Can Help

Want support evolving your relationship with Death and improving your quality of life? I can help.

I’m so glad you tuned in today. Don’t forget to follow this show, and I’ll see you next time on Andrew Petty is Dying.

Books & Authors Recommended by Frederic

If You Liked This Episode, I Think You’ll Like These, Too

Connect with Frederic: Email

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New to Andrew Petty is Dying?

If you're new to this show, browse the archive of past interviews with fascinating people and short, topical solo episodes--all designed to equip you with the mindset and the means to become the person you were made to be and live the life you were made to live with guts, gusto, and abandon. We flip the script by inviting our ancient foe, Death, to become an unlikely ally in our heroic journey to leave it all out on the field of life. Turns out, Mortality might just be the most potent motivator available--blasting us out of our ambivalence and complacency and toward the fullness of our potential.

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