Ep. 125 How to Have a Peaceful Death

Learn some steps you can take NOW to ensure that you will be at peace when you reach the end of life.

PodcastPeacefulDeath

momThis week I’m sharing with you my reflections on what it takes to be at peace when you die. I just observed the 5th anniversary of my Mom’s death and I was inspired to create this podcast by thinking about the peace she experienced at the time of her death and how she was able to achieve that! 

Read the companion blog on this subject here.

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Join A Year of Reading Dangerously and read fantastic books about death and dying all through 2018! Learn more and sign up here.

Thanks to my latest supporter on Patreon.com/eolu: Cheryl Durden! Your contribution to this podcast and to the End-of-Life University Interview Series is greatly appreciated!

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

After writing a blog this week called “Why Some People Don’t Die in Peace” I decided that I should go further and address HOW to actually be more at peace when the end of life arrives. So here are my thoughts! These are all things to start working on now in order to be at peace in the end:

PHYSICAL:

  • Plan ahead for your time of dying: What type of care do you want to receive? Where do you want to be when you die?
  • Appoint a reliable healthcare proxy to speak on your behalf
  • Create advance directives and talk about them with everyone (family, medical providers, clergy, friends, attorney)
  • Do “death-cleaning” by giving away all the things you don’t need any more
  • Think about where you will live and who will take care of you if you are unable to care for yourself. How have you provided for these possibilities
  • Make note of all of your preparations along with all of your financial and ownership information. Make sure this is accessible to family members who may need this information in the future.
  • Plan ahead for your funeral and burial

MENTAL:

  • Prepare yourself for death by reading and learning what happens at the end of life
  • Participate in a Death Cafe to have conversations about death
  • Watch films about the end of life (like “Extremis” on Netflix)
  • Attend workshops, classes, lectures in your community about death and dying

EMOTIONAL:

  • Get your emotional “house in order” by reviewing your unfinished business – who do you need to forgive? What unhealed wounds are you carrying?
  • Work on practicing forgiveness now
  • Let go of old resentments
  • Make amends for your own errors in the past

SPIRITUAL:

  • Find meaning in life, no matter how difficult the circumstances of your life
  • Learn to live every moment and find joy and love wherever you go
  • Figure out what really matters to you and make sure you are living that every day
  • Face your fear of death to help you overcome all fears in your life and live with more joy

Thanks for supporting EOLU! I appreciate your listening – if you enjoy this content please leave a review on iTunes. Tune in next week for another fascinating episode!

Until then …

Face Your Fear              BE Ready               Love Your Life

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Ep. 124 Graceful Passages: The Healing Power of Music with Gary Malkin

Learn from this Emmy-award winning composer how music is a form of “energy medicine” that can transform grief and the end-of-life experience.

PodcastMalkin

ALMalkincroppedIn this episode I share an interview with Gary Malkin, composer of the music for “Graceful Passages,” a CD used in hospices around the world to comfort the dying. Gary will discuss how music has the potential to heal on a physical, emotional and spiritual level and why healthcare should include the arts in the future.

Learn more at http://www.wisdomoftheworld.com

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS: 

A Year of Reading

You can still sign up for A Year of Reading Dangerously and join our online reading group. For the month of January 2018 we are reading When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Sign up below to receive email notifications each month and to join our stimulating conversation on Facebook and by live conference call.

https://mailchi.mp/karenwyattmd/yearofreading

Patreonbecome2xAs always, support for this podcast comes from my donation page at Patreon.com/eolu. Thank you to all of my current donors who are helping to keep this show and the End-of-Life University Interview Series on the air. Special thanks this week goes to Laurie Dinerstein-Kurs for increasing her pledge to the Platinum level! If you’d like to contribute (as little as $1 per month) go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more.

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

This week I welcome Emmy winning composer Gary Malkin to talk about his CD for end-of-life transitions: Graceful Passages.

Key takeaways from this interview include:

  • How Gary composed the music for Graceful Passages and where the inspiration came from
  • How music can be used as a tool that calls people to be fully present and can be very helpful in end-of-life scenarios
  • Why music is helpful in times of grief
  • Why we should look for music that is “life-enhancing” or “positive intention” to have a soothing effect and create a response of relaxation
  • Science is documenting that music and other art forms can increase heart coherence, cause the release of oxytocin (the “love hormone”) and enhance immune function
  • Why periods of silence are important and how deep breathing and soft toning can help bridge the fear of silence

Thanks for tuning in! You’ll find a new episode every Monday so be sure to come back. Leave a review on iTunes if you enjoy this kind of content!

Until next week remember:

Face Your Fear           BE Ready             Love Your Life

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Ep. 123 Goals and Wishes for 2018: Let’s “Be Good at Death”

Hear my far-reaching dreams and ideas for changing the way people die in the U.S. in 2018.

PodcastWishes18

goals2018In this episode I talk about some of my own personal goals for the New Year and then discuss a list of ideas for ways in which we need to improve all aspects of the end of life. Get some inspiration for steps you can take within your own community and in your own personal life to “Be Good at Death.”

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS:
A Year of Reading

I’ve started a new year-long reading group called A Year of Reading Dangerously for 2018! We’ll be exploring death and the afterlife through books that hopefully will inspire us and stretch our boundaries. Sign up to receive a monthly email with the book selection for the month and a downloadable reader’s discussion guide. Join the fun!

Sign up here.

A HUGE thank-you to my latest supporters: Claire Turner and Dr. Leslie Robinson. Your contribution is greatly appreciated as it helps defray the costs of producing and broadcasting this podcast and the End-of-Life University Interview Series, but it also provides me with much-needed emotional and spiritual support! To donate as little as $1 per month go to Patreon.com/eolu.

There is a new pledge level on Patreon-the Platinum level-where for a donation of $5 per month you’ll receive replays of ALL of the End-of-Life University Interviews for 2018. So check it out now!

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

What we need to do to “Be Good at Death” in 2018″:

  1. Policy Level changes needed:
    1. Improve reimbursement for Palliative Care
    2. Stabilize and improve reimbursement for Hospice Care
    3. Establish a system for paying family caregivers
  2. Medical System changes needed
    1. Integrate Palliative Care into Primary Care and therefore …
    2. Increase home-based palliative services
    3. Rank hospitals according to the quality of end-of-life care provided (based on an article by Dr. Haider Warraich from Duke University). Dr. Warraich’s criteria for this ranking include:
      1. “percentage of patients with a documented health care proxy
      2. percentage of patients who receive heroic measures like cardiopulmonary resuscitation or cardiac defibrillation
      3. appropriate use of hospice and palliative care
      4. the likelihood of a family recommending the hospital for end-of-life care
      5. whether patients’ location of death was concordant with the place in which they had wanted to die
      6. availability of around-the-clock spiritual resources
      7. the training the medical team receives for dealing with the medical and psychosocial issues that arise when death is imminent”   ((Thank you Dr. Warraich for this fabulous idea!))
  3. Medical Education changes needed
    1. Train all medical providers in palliative care (at least a one-month rotation) regardless of specialty
    2. All medical students work with dying patients in at least one rotation
    3. Teach better conversational and listening skills to medical providers
    4. Help medical providers process their own fears and biases toward death and their repressed grief
  4. Community changes needed
    1. Create adjuncts to hospice care:
      1. Non-medical social hospices
      2. All-volunteer non-medical hospice services
      3. Hospices train volunteer death doulas to augment the care currently being provided
    2. Establish Caregiver Education programs in the community
    3. Create a No One Dies Alone program in hospitals and nursing facilities
    4. Improve community education about death and dying through:
      1. Death Cafes
      2. Book clubs
      3. Workshops
      4. Advance Directive courses
      5. Death and Dying classes for high schools, colleges and universities
  5. Individual changes needed:
    1. Continually work on our own fear and resistance to death
    2. Explore our unhealed and repressed grief (consider travel to help with grief)
    3. Keep learning about death
    4. Talk about death with others in our social circle
    5. Make death part of your every day life 
    6. Teach children about death and help them navigate through loss and grief

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Come back each Monday for a new episode! Visit Patreon.com/eolu if you’d like to become a supporter and leave a review on iTunes if you enjoy this podcast.

Until next week:

Face Your Fear          BE Ready         Love Your Life

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Ep. 122 Top 10 “Game Changers” of 2017 for the Death-Positive Movement

Learn about my Top-10 picks for people, events and trends that have changed the end-of-life movement in 2017.

PodcastGameChangers

2017In this final episode of 2017 I take a look back at the previous year and share my thoughts on some of the events and people that I believe will have a big impact on how our society deals with the end of life.

Happy Holidays!

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Patreonbecome2xYou can support this podcast by making a small donation of $1 or $2 at Patreon.com/eolu.

 

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

Here are my picks for the 2017 Game Changers in the Death-Positive Movement:

  • The documentary film “Extremis” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. The film was also picked up by Netflix in 2016. It is a powerful depiction of end-of-life care in the ICU staffed by Dr. Jessica Zitter, which should serve as a wake-up call to people about the need to do end-of-life planning before a healthcare crisis occurs.
  • Dr. Jessica Zitter’s book Extreme Measures was also released this year. In addition she wrote an article for the N.Y. Times (“First Sex Ed Then Death Ed”) calling for death education classes for all high school students. This novel idea has the potential to change our society’s perception of death and dying by introducing the subject to young people. Dr. Zitter is truly a game changer!
  • In March and May of 2017 the organization The Dinner Party (a movement to provide community for millennials dealing with loss) convened meetings with business leaders from some prominent US corporations to discuss loss and the workplace. They emphasized the importance of developing workplace policies and protocols for managing bereaved employees and offering them assistance. These conversations are just the first step in changing how grief is recognized and supported in the workplace rather than being ignored.
  • In April 2017 the 1st International Death Doula Training was held in Maui for the purpose of teaching people from around the globe to serve others as death doulas. This event was a game changer because it validated the death doula movement, increased the number of qualified doulas who can serve their communities, and provided a networking platform for death workers, which helped strengthen and expand the movement. The 2nd International training will take place in 2018!
  • Also in Apri the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit was held to address the epidemic of opioid addiction in this country. Measures have been taken to limit the number of pain pills that can be prescribed and dispensed at one time. This is an important and game-changing step to deal with the overwhelming public crisis of opioid deaths but caution is necessary. We must be vigilant to ensure that all hospice and palliative care patients have access to the medications they need for pain and symptom management.
  • On June 27, 2017 Jon Underwood, founder of Death Cafe, died suddenly and unexpectedly at a young age. Jon has been a game changer from the beginning by creating the Death Cafe platform for conversations about death that has spread around the world. But the tragedy of his death is also a potential game changer because of the powerful legacy Jon leaves behind and because of the potential for tragedy to inspire growth, creativity and healing. The entire death-positive movement is indebted to Jon for his inspiring and gentle leadership and may his death be a catalyst for transformation.
  • In July a new smart phone app named WeCroak was introduced. This app is a game changer because it helps people to think about death in a positive manner  by sending reminders (“You will die one day”) and quotes on their phones 5 times a day. Technology has the potential to revolutionize our approach to death and dying and this simple $.99 app is just one small step toward the change that is needed.
  • The film Coco was released in the US by Disney and Pixar in November. Coco tells the story of a 12-year old boy who is transported to the land of the dead on Dia de los Muertos. There he receives help from his departed great-great grandfather to return to his family in the land of the living. The film depicts joyful skeletons who dance and sing and it portrays a positive image of life after death. While it is a children’s movie Coco has a powerful message for adults and is likely to stimulate much conversation in families about death and departed ancestors. It is exciting to see Hollywood begin to address death in a positive manner and this film is a game changer that will hopefully lead to more such productions in the future.
  • In December the first EndWell Symposium, created by Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider and her foundation, was held in San Francisco. This groundbreaking symposium brought together thought leaders from healthcare, design and technology to share ideas on how to improve end-of-life care. The synergy of this collaborative event will have a ripple effect across the country and should lead to innovation and creativity around death and dying in the months to come. Dr. Ungerleider is a game changer for her forward-thinking generosity and ingenuity!
  • Also in December the Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy in Prescott AZ held a class for students in grades 9-12 on “Death and the Meaning of Life.”  School Director Charles Mentken taught the class, which provided a comprehensive look at death and dying from various cultural and religious perspectives. The elective class also introduced the students to options for hospice and palliative care, death doulas, home funerals, cremation, and traditional funeral and  burial services. This may be the first “pilot project” course of the type Dr. Jessica Zitter called for in her NY Times article and it is definitely a game changer. The students in the course have reported that their attitudes and fears about death have been totally transformed, as well as their approach to life, as a result of what they learned in the class. (I’ll be featuring an interview with Charles Mentken and 3 of his students on the End-of-Life University Interview Series in early 2018. Sign up if you’re not already on the list!)

I hope your holiday celebrations have been filled with joy and light and that you feel ready to embark on a brand new year next week! There will be a new episode on New Year’s Day where I will share my “wish list” for 2018.

Until then remember to ….

Face Your Fear            BE Ready           Love Your Life

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Ep. 119 The Dying in America Project with Carolyn Jones

Learn about this documentary film project that examines the dying process through the eyes of nurses, directed by award-winning filmmaker Carolyn Jones.

PodcastCaJones

Carolyn_JonesIn this episode I share an interview with Carolyn Jones, an amazing filmmaker who has turned her attention to the death and dying process here in the U.S. Through interviews with nurses all around the country and by following 4 patients on their end of life journeys Carolyn hopes to demystify the dying process and spur conversation about how to do it better.

Learn more at www.dyinginamerica.org

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

downloads_wordmark_white_on_coralMany thanks as usual to all of the supporters who have made donations at Patreon.com/eolu! I am forever grateful for your generosity. You can become a patron for just $1 or $2 per month by signing up at Patreon.com/eolu.

I’d also like to thank all the listeners who have written in over the past few months to express their gratitude for this podcast and for the EOL University Interview Series! I couldn’t do this without you showing up to listen in and join the conversation. Thank you to Susan O’Brien, Terry Lindsley, Don Dahlheimer, Karen Britton, Marzette Ellis, and Louise Kelly for your messages of support! 

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

Today I welcome Carolyn Jones an award-winning filmmaker who has created the Dying in America Project. Her project consists of interviews with 50 hospice and palliative care nurses, and will follow the journeys of four hospice patients when it has been completed. Carolyn will share her inspiration for the project and the goals she has for the future.

In this interview you will learn:

  • How Carolyn’s past experiences led to this project
  • How Carolyn created the Dying in America videos
  • What can be learned from the Dying in America website
  • How Carolyn hopes this project will help change the way we die in this country

Carolyn Jones is an award-winning photographer and filmmaker who specializes in telling stories that shed light on issues of global concern. Her first book, Living Proof: Courage in the Face of AIDS, was published by Abbeville Press and accompanied by shows in Tokyo, Berlin, the USA, and at the United Nations World AIDS Conference. She directed a television series for Oxygen Media called Womenshands as well as Women… on Family, a program for PBS. Carolyn founded the non-profit 100 People Foundation which creates educational films and curricula for school children worldwide. She has spent the last two years interviewing nurses from all over the country for the book and documentary film: The American Nurse. For more information about Carolyn and Dying in America, visit the websites below. The Dying in America website, supported by a grant from the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare, is the first phase of the project, which will culminate in a feature length documentary that will seek to change the way Americans confront death.

Websites: www.carolynjones.com

                www.dyinginamerica.org 

Remember to tune in every Monday for a new episode, subscribe on iTunes and leave a review if you enjoy this content!

Until next time …

Face Your Fear           BE Ready          Love Your Life

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Ep. 118 How Travel Helped My Grief

Learn how travel can provide a “safe container” for healing grief and loss.

PodcastGriefTravel

kwadriatic.jpg
In this episode I’ll share my own insights into how the experience of travel can help with the process of grief. This is also the subject of the new book I’m writing (I did research for it on my recent trip to Italy) … I’ll share a brief overview here!

You can check out all of my Italy photos on Instagram!

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

virtualdeathcafecroppedEach month I host a “Virtual Death Cafe” with fascinating conversations about death, grief and the end of life. Anyone can join by telephone or online. You can learn more about it at www.eoluniversity.com/death-cafe.

Also, if you missed Death Expo earlier this month you can still access the replays at this link: www.eoluniversity.com/de17speakers.

Patreonbecome2xThis podcast is supported through the generous donations of my patrons on Patreon.com/eolu. I’m sending a HUGE THANK YOU to all of my current supporters – your support makes a big difference! Join the fun for just $1 or $2 per month and you’ll receive the “Patrons Only” Q&A recording each month (Hospice Happy Hour!) Go to Patreon.com/eolu to learn more and sign up!

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

During several of my travel experiences in the past I have been dealing with grief and have found the process of travel to be helpful. On one trip to Italy, my husband and I learned of the death of our brother-in-law on the day we arrived in Venice. Unable to cancel the rest of our trip and return home immediately, which we wanted to do, we stumbled through the remainder of the vacation and managed to make peace with our pain.

Here are some of my “takeaways” about how travel can help with grief:

  • Permission to wander aimlessly. On our Venice trip we canceled all of our sightseeing plans and activities. We started each day with a totally clean slate and just wandered the streets and canals of the city all day long. By following our intuition and our broken hearts we were able to enter into our grief without distraction or attachment. Had we been at home with family we would have felt obligated to “do something” and “be somewhere” but because we were traveling we were free of all expectations.
  • Seeing the big picture. Because we were freed up from the details of our daily life at home, we found more space to explore grief from a “trans-personal” perspective, as something bigger than just our own individual lives. Experiencing grief in another country allowed us to:
    • Recognize that all people, everywhere, experience the death of loved ones. Our mortality and the grief it causes us is the interconnecting thread that binds us to all of humanity.
    • Go deep into history. By visiting ancient ruins we can see that all of humankind, throughout history has dealt with the pain of loss and struggled to make peace with death. Our experience of grief is just one part of a vast “whole” picture of human loss.
  • Surrendering to grief to find joy within. As travelers “stuck” in another country even though we wanted to be home, we had no choice but to surrender to the pain that engulfed us. When we allowed grief to find a home within (and even “became” a living embodiment of grief) we also discovered a startling capacity for simple joy over the beauty of being alive. I’ve written this before: suffering hollows us out so that we can contain an even greater measure of joy … and also love.
  • Understanding impermanence. Strolling through cemeteries, relics and ruined structures of the past illustrated to me perfectly that everything that exists in the physical realm is impermanent and will one day dissolve away. Only love and the energy of life persist eternally. And it is the depth of the love we experience for others that causes the magnitude of pain we feel upon their deaths. Grief is one of the visible manifestations of love in the physical realm.
  • Learning how to navigate in unfamiliar territory. On our “grief trip” in Venice we simply wandered every day until we were hopelessly lost. We took in everything around us along the way–noticing all the colors and sounds and fragrances of life. And when we felt ready to return “home” we studied our maps to figure out where we were and to slowly find our way back to more familiar territory. This skill of navigating in the unknown will prove to be very helpful to us throughout life and especially during our own dying process as we struggle to get back to a home we can’t remember.

I hope you will take the opportunity to travel some day, even when you are experiencing grief, to experience the profound benefits it can offer!

Tune in every Monday for a new episode of the podcast! If you enjoy this content, please share it with others and leave a review on iTunes! Until next week remember:

Face Your Fear            BE Ready            Love Your Life

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Ep. 117 Grief Yoga with Paul Denniston

Learn how the practice of yoga can help heal acute and chronic grief.

PodcastDenniston

ALDennistoncroppedIn this episode I share an interview with yoga teacher Paul Denniston who has created a special workshop for healing grief using yoga and movement. He’ll share stories of his own journey through grief and how his workshop is helping others.

Learn more about grief yoga.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

The Thanksgiving Holiday is approaching in the U.S. and I want to wish everyone a week of gratitude and generosity as we reflect on all that life has given us. My family will be celebrating with our Annual Thanksgiveaway: handing out care packages to the homeless. This is just a small gesture of kindness as a way of expressing our thankfulness for all of our blessings of the past year. I hope you too find a special way to share with others on this holiday!

downloads_wordmark_white_on_coralI am especially grateful for all of my supporters on Patreon.com/eolu! Your generosity helps me feel connected to my audience and lets me know that you like the content I am creating. If you would like to become a patron you can sign up to contribute just $1 or $2 per month at Patreon.com/eolu.

Barbara McAfee has generously offered to share the following music video with all of us! She wrote the song Living Dying Man for her friend Jamie Showkeir as he faced the end of his life from ALS. Learn more at Barbara’s website: http://barbaramcafee.com

I hope you enjoy listening! Thank you Barbara for sharing with us!

FEATURE PRESENTATION:

In this interview yoga teacher Paul Denniston will discuss:

  • his use of yoga as therapy for grief
  • how various types of yoga can help release grief that has been stored in the physical body
  • tips and strategies for moving through grief
  • why laughter yoga is especially healing.

Paul Denniston teaches Grief Yoga to bereavement groups in one of the largest hospices in Los Angeles, and has taught for several years at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. He offers techniques and exercises to therapists, counselors and health care professionals in the United States, England and Australia. Paul has studied with some of the world’s leaders in grief work, including David Kessler, William Worden and Elisabeth Kubler Ross.

Tune in every Monday for a new episode! If you enjoy this podcast please consider leaving a review on iTunes – it will be greatly appreciated!

Until we meet again remember …

Face Your Fear                 BE Ready               Love Your Life

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