I am back online after an unscheduled hiatus due to a period of intense stress. Shortly after I “birthed” this blog, one of my dearest friends had a sudden, aggressive recurrence of cancer. I was her primary care physician as she went through her cancer surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. When I left clinical practice in February 2010, her disease was in remission, but she asked me to promise that I would be there for her, as her doctor and her friend, if the disease recurred in the future. I made that promise and its fulfillment while stressful, was also a powerful learning process. As I catch up on all those things I did not accomplish during the most active month of her illness, I am in the process of grieving a truly dear friend while trying to recovery from the emotional trauma of watching her dying process. This started me thinking about death and dying in general, something most doctors experience more often than they would like, and realized I have learned many deep lessons from observing illness and death and the different forms it can take in different people. Over the next few blogs, I plan to share several experiences related to this subject and what I learned from them. I invite you to join me.