The Journey Of Losing A Soulmate To Cancer with Carla Malden

Hosted by: Justine Willis Toms

When you lose someone well-meaning people give you books full of supposedly uplifting platitudes: “time heals all wounds;” “there is a purpose to this;” “you will find closure.”  But, as non-religious baby-boomer, Carla Malden says, she found them useless.  She shares the highs and lows, sparing nothing in her truth-telling. You will be inspired by her candor and clarity as she speaks about her experience of living through the debilitating disease and death of her husband and work partner. She likens this time in her life to being strapped in a roller-coaster that you never bought a ticket for, “You can do nothing but hold on. There are weeks where you are plummeting and weeks where you feel hopeful and things are on the rise.” This conversation explores the zigzagging emotions of living with a loved one who is battling a life threatening illness as well as moving into widowhood. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)

Carla Malden has been a screenwriter and published author. She began her career as the assistant to renowned director Elia Kazan. With her husband and screen writing partner, Laurence Starkman, she co-wrote many screen plays and produced and wrote several award winning short films.  Along with her father, Academy Award winning actor Karl Malden, she co-authored his critically acclaimed memoir, When Do I Start? (Limelight Editions 2004) and author of Afterimage, A Broken Hearted Memoir of a Charmed Life (Skirt! 2011). To learn more about the work of Carla Malden go to

Topics explored in this dialogue include:

  • How we must learn the new language of medicine
  • How does one cope with a reoccurrence of an illness
  • How do we go about breaking the “habit” of our life-long partner after they have died
  • What does time teach us about grief
  • How writing helped with the grief
  • What it was like to bring her husband home to die
  • What is the paradox of wanting things to be normal when they are so out of kilter
  • How to cope with guilt of things said or not said
  • How to understand the need to go shopping when life is out of our control
  • How is therapy useful for the entire family when a loved one is dying
  • How does one cope with survivor’s guilt
  • How can we best help someone who is going through deep grief

Program Number: 3449     Hosted by: Justine Willis Toms     Interview Date: 9/6/12

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